Summary. At least 71% of CF1 × B6SJLF1/J embryos developed from the 1-cell stage to the blastocyst stage in an optimum glutamine concentration of 1 mm, as long as glucose was present after the first 48 h of culture. Blastocysts raised under these conditions had significantly more cells than did blastocysts raised in CZB medium alone (glutamine present, glucose absent). Embryos raised in vivo accumulated 170–200 fmol glutamine/embryo/h at the unfertilized egg and 1-cell stages with a decline to 145 fmol/embryo/h at the 2-cell stage, followed by sharp increases to 400 and 850 fmol/embryo/h at the 8-cell and blastocyst stages. The presence or absence of glucose in the labelling medium had no effect on glutamine uptake by these embryos. Embryos raised in vitro accumulated 2–3 times more glutamine at stages comparable to those of embryos raised in vivo. In all cases in which 1-cell to blastocyst development in vitro was successful, glucose was present in the culture medium and the incremental uptake of glutamine between the 8-cell stage and the blastocyst stage was approximately 2-fold. This was also the increment for in-vivo raised embryos. When glucose was not present after the first 48 h, the 8-cell to blastocyst glutamine increment was not significant, and development into blastocysts was reduced. The results also show that glutamine can be used as an energy source for the generation of CO2 through the TCA cycle by all stages of preimplantation mouse development, whether raised in vivo or in vitro from the 1-cell stage. Two-cell embryos raised in vivo converted as much as 70% of the glutamine uptake into CO2, consistent with an important role for glutamine in the very earliest stages of preimplantation development. Cultured blastocysts appeared to convert less glutamine and the presence of glucose in the culture medium seemed to inhibit this conversion.
Keywords: mouse embryo; glutamine; uptake; energy substrate