Obesity does not aggravate vitrification injury in mouse embryos: a prospective study
- Equal contributors
Center for Reproductive Medicine, Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, 17th Shou-gou-ling Road, Guangzhou, 510655, People’s Republic of China
Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2012, 10:68 doi:10.1186/1477-7827-10-68Published: 31 August 2012
Obesity is associated with poor reproductive outcomes, but few reports have examined thawed embryo transfer in obese women. Many studies have shown that increased lipid accumulation aggravates vitrification injury in porcine and bovine embryos, but oocytes of these species have high lipid contents (63 ng and 161 ng, respectively). Almost nothing is known about lipids in human oocytes except that these cells are anecdotally known to be relatively lipid poor. In this regard, human oocytes are considered to be similar to those of the mouse, which contain approximately 4 ng total lipids/oocyte. To date, no available data show the impact of obesity on vitrification in mouse embryos. The aim of this study was to establish a murine model of maternal diet-induced obesity and to characterize the effect of obesity on vitrification by investigating the survival rate and embryo developmental competence after thawing.
Prospective comparisons were performed between six–eight-cell embryos from obese and normal-weight mice and between fresh and vitrified embryos. Female C57BL/6 mice were fed standard rodent chow (normal-weight group) or a high-fat diet (obese group) for 6 weeks. The mice were mated, zygotes were collected from oviducts and cultured for 3 days, and six–eight-cell embryos were then selected to assess lipid content in fresh embryos and to evaluate differences in apoptosis, survival, and development rates in response to vitrification.
In fresh embryos from obese mice, the lipid content (0.044 vs 0.030, P<0.01) and apoptosis rate (15.1% vs.9.3%, P<0.05)were significantly higher, the survival rate (83.1% vs. 93.1%, P<0.01) on day 5 was significantly lower, and embryo development was notably delayed on days 3–5 compared with the normal-weight group. After vitrification, no significant difference was found between thawed embryos from obese and normal-weight mice in apoptosis, survival, and development rates on days 4 and 5. In both groups, pre- and post-vitrification embryo apoptosis, survival, and development rates were similar.
This study demonstrated that differences in survival and developmental rates between embryos from obese and normal-weight mice were eliminated after vitrification. Thus, maternal obesity does not aggravate vitrification injury, but obesity alone greatly impairs pre-implantation embryo survival and development.