New alternative mixtures of cryoprotectants for equine immature oocyte vitrification

Angel-Velez, Daniel; Coster, Tine De; Azari-Dolatabad, Nima; Fernandez-Montoro, Andrea; Benedetti, Camilla; Pascottini, Osvaldo Bogado; Woelders, Henri; Soom, Ann Van; Smits, Katrien


Equine oocyte vitrification would benefit the growing in vitro embryo production programs, but further optimization of the protocol is necessary to reach clinical efficiency. Therefore, we aimed to perform a direct comparison of non-permeating and permeating cryoprotective agents (CPAs) during the vitrification and warming of equine immature oocytes. In the first experiment, cumulus oocytes complexes (COCs) were vitrified comparing sucrose, trehalose, and galactose in combination with ethylene glycol (EG) and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). In the second experiment, the COCs were vitrified using three mixtures of permeating CPAs in a 50:50 volume ratio (ethylene glycol-dimethyl sulfoxide (ED), propylene glycol-ethylene glycol (PE), and propylene glycol-dimethyl sulfoxide (PD)) with galactose and warmed in different galactose concentrations (0.3 or 0.5 mol/L). Overall, all the treatments supported blastocyst formation, but the developmental rates were lower for all the vitrified groups in the first (4.3 to 7.6%) and the second (3.5 to 9.4%) experiment compared to the control (26.5 and 34.2%, respectively; p < 0.01). In the first experiment, the maturation was not affected by vitrification. The sucrose exhibited lower cleavage than the control (p = 0.02). Although the galactose tended to have lower maturation than trehalose (p = 0.060) and control (p = 0.069), the highest numerical cleavage and blastocyst rates were obtained with this CPA. In the second experiment, the maturation, cleavage, and blastocyst rates were similar between the treatments. Compared to the control, only the ED reached similar maturation (p = 0.02) and PE similar cleavage (p = 0.1). The galactose concentration during warming did not affect the maturation, cleavage, or blastocyst rates (p > 0.1), but the PE-0.3 exhibited the highest blastocyst rate (15.1%) among the treatments, being the only one comparable to the control (34.2%). As such, PE–galactose provides a valuable option for equine immature oocyte vitrification and should be considered for the future optimization of the protocol