Direct Comparison of the Effects of Slow Freezing and Vitrification on Late Blastocyst Gene Expression, Development, Implantation and Offspring of Rabbit Morulae
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Contents This study aimed to assess the effect of different cryopreservation procedures (slow freezing vs vitrification) on the gene expression in pre-implantation embryos and its implication in post-implantation embryo losses in rabbit. For this purpose, rabbit morulae were recovered at Day 3 of development, frozen or vitrified and transferred to recipients. Then, embryos were recovered on Day 3 post-transfer (Day 6 of development) or kept until the end of gestation. Apart from the gene expression analysis at Day 6, we also studied the pre-implantatory and foetal development ability of both cryopreserved embryo types by evaluating late blastocyst development at Day 6, embryo implantation at Day 11 post-transfer (Day 14 of development) and birth rate. We reported that slow freezing and vitrification have similar effects on embryo developmental ability till Day 6, but the distribution of losses changes during implantation and further development. These similarities at Day 6 of development were also reflected in gene expression patterns, and transcriptome analysis showed no differences between frozen and vitrified embryos. Our results confirm that vitrification provides better implantation and birth rates than slow freezing for rabbit embryos. As both the techniques are commonly used in human assisted reproduction, further experiments must be conducted to clarify the causes that may hinder foetal development and their impact on adulthood.