Somatic cell nuclear transfer in pigs: recent achievements and future possibilities

Reprod Fertil Dev. 2007;19(2):403-23. doi: 10.1071/rd06089.


During the past 6 years, considerable advancement has been achieved in experimental embryology of pigs. This process was mainly generated by the rapidly increasing need for transgenic pigs for biomedical research purposes, both for future xenotransplantation to replace damaged human organs or tissues, and for creating authentic animal models for human diseases to study aetiology, pathogenesis and possible therapy. Theoretically, among various possibilities, an established somatic cell nuclear transfer system with genetically engineered donor cells seems to be an efficient and reliable approach to achieve this goal. However, as the result of unfortunate coincidence of known and unknown factors, porcine embryology had been a handicapped branch of reproductive research in domestic animals and a very intensive and focused research was required to eliminate or minimise this handicap. This review summarises recent achievements both in the background technologies (maturation, activation, embryo culture) and the actual performance of the nuclear replacement. Recent simplified methods for in vivo development after embryo transfer are also discussed. Finally, several fields of potential application for human medical purposes are discussed. The authors conclude that although in this early phase of research no direct evidence can be provided about the practical use of transgenic pigs produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer as organ donors or disease models, the future chances even in medium term are good, and at least proportional with the efforts and sums that are invested into this research area worldwide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo Research / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Nuclear Transfer Techniques / trends*
  • Oocytes / growth & development
  • Pregnancy
  • Sus scrofa / embryology*
  • Sus scrofa / genetics*