Embryonic genotype and inbreeding affect preimplantation development in cattle

Reproduction. 2011 May;141(5):625-32. doi: 10.1530/REP-10-0282. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Infertility in cattle herds is a growing problem with multifactorial causes. Embryonic genotype and level of inbreeding are among the many factors that can play a role on reproductive efficiency. To investigate this issue, we produced purebred and crossbred bovine embryos by in vitro techniques from Holstein oocytes and Holstein or Brown Swiss semen and analyzed several cellular and molecular features. In the first experiment, purebred and crossbred embryos, obtained from abattoir oocytes, were analyzed for cleavage, development to morula/blastocyst stages, amino acid metabolism and gene expression of developmentally important genes. The results indicated significant differences in the percentage of compacted morulae, in the expression of three genes at the blastocyst stage (MNSOD, GP130 and FGF4) and in the utilization of serine, asparagine, methionine and tryptophan in day 6 embryos. In the second experiment, bovine oocytes were collected by ovum pick up from ten Holstein donors and fertilized with the semen of the respective Holstein sires or with Brown Swiss semen. The derived embryos were grown in vitro up to day 7, and were then transferred to synchronized recipients and recovered on day 12. We found that purebred/inbred embryos had lower blastocyst rate on days 7-8, were smaller on day 12 and had lower expression of the trophoblast gene PLAC8. Overall, these results indicate reduced and delayed development of purebred embryos compared with crossbred embryos. In conclusion, this study provides evidence that embryo genotype and high inbreeding can affect amino acid metabolism, gene expression, preimplantation development and therefore fertility in cattle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / metabolism*
  • Blastocyst / pathology
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / genetics*
  • Cattle Diseases / physiopathology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130 / genetics
  • Embryo Culture Techniques / veterinary
  • Embryo Transfer / veterinary
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Female
  • Fertility / genetics*
  • Fertilization in Vitro / veterinary
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 4 / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Gestational Age
  • Inbreeding*
  • Infertility / genetics
  • Infertility / physiopathology
  • Infertility / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Pregnancy
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics


  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 4
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130
  • Superoxide Dismutase