Progress in reproductive biotechnology in swine

Theriogenology. 2001 Nov 1;56(8):1291-304. doi: 10.1016/s0093-691x(01)00630-6.


This article summarizes recent progress in reproductive biotechnology in swine with special reference to in vitro production of embryos, generation of identical multiples, and transgenic pigs useful for xenotransplantation. In vitro production (in vitro maturation, in vitro fertilization, and in vitro culture) of viable porcine embryos is possible, although with much lower success rates than in cattle. The main problems are insufficient cytoplasmic maturation of porcine oocytes, a high proportion of polyspermic fertilization and a low proportion of blastocysts that, in addition, are characterized by a low number of cells, hampering their development in vivo upon transfer to recipients. Microsurgical bisection of morula and blastocyst stage embryos leads to a 2 to 3% monozygotic twinning rate of the transferred demiembryos, which is similar to that in rabbits and mice but considerably lower than in ruminants. It was found that with decreasing quality an increasing proportion of demi-embryos did not possess an inner cell mass. Porcine individual blastomeres derived from 4- and 8-cell embryos can be cultured in defined medium to the blastocyst stage. Leukemia inhibitory factor has been shown to be effective at defined embryonic stages and supports the formation of the inner cell mass in cultured isolated blastomeres in a concentration-dependent manner. For maintaining pregnancies with micromanipulated porcine embryos, it is not necessary to transfer extraordinarily high numbers of embryos. Porcine nuclear transfer is still struggling from the inefficiency of producing normally functioning blastocysts. Blastomeres, blastocyst-derived cells, fibroblasts and granulosa cells have been employed as donor cells in porcine nuclear transfer and have yielded blastocysts. Recently, the generation of the first piglets from somatic cell nuclear transfer has been achieved. DNA-microinjection into pronuclei of porcine zygotes has reliably resulted in the generation of transgenic pigs, which have special importance for the production of valuable pharmaceutical proteins in milk and xenotransplantation. It has been demonstrated that by expression of human complement regulatory proteins in transgenic pigs the hyperacute rejection response occurring after xenotransplantation can be overcome in a clinically relevant manner. Although biotechnological procedures in swine have recently undergone tremendous progress, the development is still lagging behind that in cattle and sheep. With regard to genetic engineering, considerable progress will originate from the possibility of employing homologous recombination in somatic cell lines and their subsequent use in nuclear transfer. In combination with the increasing knowledge in gene sequences this will allow in the foreseeable future widespread use in the pig industry either for agricultural or biomedical purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • Biotechnology / trends*
  • Breeding / methods*
  • Cloning, Organism / trends
  • Cloning, Organism / veterinary
  • Embryo Transfer / trends
  • Embryo Transfer / veterinary
  • Fertilization in Vitro / trends
  • Fertilization in Vitro / veterinary
  • Microinjections / trends
  • Microinjections / veterinary
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Swine / embryology*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / trends
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / veterinary
  • Veterinary Medicine / trends