A limiting factor in the development of new technologies and transport of rats worldwide has been the inability to robustly culture preimplantation embryos. Previously, culture in vitro to the blastocyst stage from one-cell embryos was successful only if the one-cell embryos were isolated near the time of the first cleavage and from only a few strains. Here we report the use of commonly available, chemically defined culture media to overcome these limitations. In vitro culture of young one-cell embryos using common embryo media (KSOM, BMOC, or HTF) for 18-22 h followed by culture in mR1ECM medium allows the successful in vitro development of blastocysts from one-cell embryos after 5 days from both outbred (SD) and inbred strains of rat (WF, LEW, F344, and PVG). This system allows the parthenogenetic development of chemically activated, unfertilized oocytes to the blastocyst stage. Embryos cultured in this system develop to term and are live-born following transfer to surrogate mothers.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.