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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Effect of an altered hormonal environment by blood plasma collected after adrenocorticotropic administration on embryo development and gene expression in porcine embryos

Gonzalez, Raquel; Pericuesta, Eva; Gutierrez-Adan, Alfonso; Sjunnesson, Ylva C. B.


Early embryonic development may be affected by adrenal hyperactivity in stressful situations which may lead to endocrine changes in the embryo environment. A sensitive period in porcine embryo development is the 4-cell stage when the embryo genome activation occurs. A mixed in vivo-in vitro system was implemented to test whether an altered milieu around this stage could affect embryo development and blastocyst quality in the porcine model. After in vitro maturation and fertilisation, presumptive zygotes were exposed for 24 h to plasma collected after ovulation from adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) treated, non-ACTH-treated sows; and, medium without plasma, supplemented with bovine serum albumin. Subsequently, embryo development and differences in gene expression were tested among treatments. Cleavage and blastocyst rates did not differ between treatments. Blastocyst quality by morphology assessment was similar when all the resulting blastocysts were included in the analysis. However, when only expanded blastocysts (and onwards) were included in the analysis, the blastocysts from the non-ACTH plasma group showed better quality score. Blastocyst quality by morphological assessment was not mirrored by the transcription levels of various important genes for embryo development whose gene expression profile did not significantly differ among groups. It is likely that the effect of the altered environment provided by plasma from ACTH-treated sows was too short to affect embryo development. Therefore, a brief exposure to an altered endocrine environment may not have harmful consequences for the embryo once fertilisation occurs. (c) 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.


Pig; qRT-PCR; In vitro culture; Cortisol; ACTH

Published in

2021, Volume: 162, pages: 15-21

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    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Clinical Science

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