Coculture of porcine luteal cells during in vitro porcine oocyte maturation affects blastocyst gene expression and developmental potential

Theriogenology. 2021 May;166:124-134. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2021.02.014. Epub 2021 Feb 25.


Oocyte maturation in culture is still the weakest part of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and coculture with somatic cells may be an alternative to improve suboptimal culture conditions, especially in the pig in which maturation takes more than 44 h. In the present study, we investigated the effect of a coculture system of porcine luteal cells (PLC) during in vitro maturation (IVM) on embryo development and gene expression. Cumulus-oocyte complexes were matured in vitro in TCM-199 with human menopausal gonadotrophin (control) and in coculture with PLC. IVF was performed with frozen-thawed boar semen in Tris-buffered medium. Presumptive zygotes were cultured in PZM for 7 days. The coculture with PLC significantly increased blastocysts rates. Gene expression changes were measured with a porcine embryo-specific microarray and confirmed by RT-qPCR. The global transcription pattern of embryos developing after PLC coculture exhibited overall downregulation of gene expression. Following global gene expression pattern analysis, genes associated with lipid metabolism, mitochondrial function, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and apoptosis were found downregulated, and genes associated with cell cycle and proliferation were found upregulated in the PLC coculture. Canonical pathway analysis by Ingenuity Pathway revealed that differential expression transcripts were associated with the sirtuin signaling pathway, oxidative phosphorylation pathway, cytokines and ephrin receptor signaling. To conclude, the coculture system of PLC during IVM has a lasting effect on the embryo until the blastocyst stage, modifying gene expression, with a positive effect on embryo development. Our model could be an alternative to replace the conventional maturation medium with gonadotrophins with higher rates of embryo development, a key issue in porcine in vitro embryo production.

Keywords: Coculture; Embryo; In vitro maturation; Luteal cells; Pig; Transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastocyst
  • Coculture Techniques / veterinary
  • Embryonic Development
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / veterinary
  • Gene Expression
  • In Vitro Oocyte Maturation Techniques / veterinary
  • Luteal Cells*
  • Male
  • Oocytes
  • Swine