Optimisation of the Bovine Whole In Vitro Embryo System as a Sentinel for Toxicity Screening: A Cadmium Challenge
Ellen P.A. Jorssen, Lucia Vergauwen, Karen Goossens, An Hagenaars, Mario Van Poucke, Evi Petro, Luc Peelman, Dries Knapen, Jo L.M.R. Leroy and Peter E.J. Bols
Developmental toxicity testing could greatly benefit from the availability of an in vitro alternative model based on the use of animal embryos that have better human-like physiology than the currently-used alternative models. These current models are insufficient, as extrapolation of the results can be challenging. Therefore, an in vitro bovine embryo culture system was used to expose individual morulae to test substances, and to study developmental characteristics up to the blastocyst stage. Cadmium was chosen as the reference toxicant to investigate the sensitivity of the bovine morulae to various concentrations and exposure times. Oocytes from slaughterhouse-obtained bovine ovaries, were maturated, fertilised and cultured up until the morula stage. Morulae were exposed to different cadmium concentrations for 18 or 70 hours, and developmental competence, embryo quality and the expression of cadmium exposure related genes were evaluated. Cadmium exposure hampered embryonic developmental competence and quality. Compared with the 18-hour exposure, the 70-hour exposure induced a 20-fold higher toxic response with regard to developmental competence and a more ‘cadmium-typical’ transcript expression. The bovine morula might be a promising tool for toxicity testing as, following exposure, the embryos reacted in a sensitive and ‘cadmium-typical’ manner to our reference toxicant.
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