Somatic cell nuclear transfer in horses

Reprod Domest Anim. 2008 Jul:43 Suppl 2:331-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0531.2008.01181.x.


The cloning of equids was achieved in 2003, several years after the birth of Dolly the sheep and also after the cloning of numerous other laboratory and farm animal species. The delay was because of the limited development in the horse of more classical-assisted reproductive techniques required for successful cloning, such as oocyte maturation and in vitro embryo production. When these technologies were developed, the application of cloning also became possible and cloned horse offspring were obtained. This review summarizes the main technical procedures that are required for cloning equids and the present status of this technique. The first step is competent oocyte maturation, this is followed by oocyte enucleation and reconstruction, using either zona-enclosed or zona-free oocytes, by efficient activation to allow high cleavage rates and finally by a suitable in vitro embryo culture technique. Cloning of the first equid, a mule, was achieved using an in vivo-matured oocytes and immediate transfer of the reconstructed embryo, i.e. at the one cell stage, to the recipient oviduct. In contrast, the first horse offspring was obtained using a complete in vitro procedure from oocyte maturation to embryo culture to the blastocyst stage, followed by non-surgical transfer. Later studies on equine cloning report high efficiency relative to that for other species. Cloned equid offspring reported to date appear to be normal and those that have reached puberty have been confirmed to be fertile. In summary, horse cloning is now a reproducible technique that offers the opportunity to preserve valuable genetics and notably to generate copies of castrated champions and therefore, offspring from those champions that would be impossible to obtain otherwise.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Organism / methods
  • Cloning, Organism / veterinary*
  • Embryo Transfer / veterinary*
  • Embryonic Development
  • Female
  • Horses / physiology*
  • Nuclear Transfer Techniques / veterinary*
  • Oocytes / cytology
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Ovum / cytology
  • Ovum / physiology
  • Pregnancy