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Effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on lamb oocyte blastocyst rate, ultrastructure, and mitochondrial DNA copy number

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 11:40 authored by Karen L. Reader, Neil CoxNeil Cox, Jo-Ann Stanton, Jenny JuengelJenny Juengel
Viable lambs can be produced after transfer of in vitro–derived embryos from oocytes harvested from prepubertal lambs. However, this occurs at a much lower efficiency than from adult ewe oocyte donors. The reduced competence of prepubertal oocytes is believed to be due, at least in part, to deficiencies in cytoplasmic maturation. Differences in the cytoplasmic ultrastructure between prepubertal and adult oocytes have been described in the sheep, pig, and cow. Prepubertal lamb oocytes have been shown to have a different distribution of mitochondria and lipid droplets, and less mitochondria and storage vesicles than their adult counterparts. L-carnitine plays a role in supplying energy to the cell by transporting long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria for b-oxidation to produce ATP. Both L-carnitine and its derivative acetyl-L-carnitine have been reported to increase the blastocyst rate of oocytes from mice, cows, and pigs, treated during IVM. L-carnitine has also been shown to increase mitochondrial biogenesis in adipose cells. Therefore, the aims of this study were to determine if treatment of oocytes from prepubertal lambs with acetyl- L-carnitine during IVM could increase the blastocyst rate and alter mitochondria, vesicle, or lipid droplet number, volume, or distribution. The blastocyst rate was doubled in prepubertal lamb oocytes treated with acetyl-L-carnitine when compared to untreated oocytes (10.0% and 4.6%, respectively; P = 0.028). Light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and stereology techniques were used to quantify organelles in untreated and acetyl-L-carnitine–treated lamb oocytes, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction methods were used to measure the mitochondrial DNA copy number. There were no differences in mitochondrial volume, number, or mitochondrial DNA copy number. Acetyl- L-carnitine treatment increased the cytoplasmic volume (P = 0.015) of the oocytes, and there were trends toward an increase in the vesicle volume (P = 0.089) and an altered distribution of lipid droplets (P = 0.076). In conclusion, acetyl-L-carnitine can be used to increase the in vitro blastocyst rate of juvenile oocytes and therefore to improve juvenile in vitro embryo transfer methods. These methods can be used for livestock improvement by increasing the rate of genetic gain. Further work is required to identify the contents of the vesicles and confirm the mode of action of acetyl-L-carnitine in improving oocyte competence.


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© 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • English

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Journal title





Reader, K. L., Cox, N. R., Stanton, J.-A. L., & Juengel, J. L. (2015). Effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on lamb oocyte blastocyst rate, ultrastructure, and mitochondrial DNA copy number. Theriogenology, 83(9), 1484-1492. doi:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2015.01.028

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