Embryo development and establishment of pregnancy after embryo transfer in pigs: Coping with limitations in the availability of viable embryos

T. J. King, J. R. Dobrinsky, J. Zhu, H. A. Finlayson, W. Bosma, L. Harkness, W. A. Ritchie, A. Travers, C. McCorquodale, B. N. Day, A. Dinnyés, P. A. De Sousa, I. Wilmut

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Embryo transfer and pregnancy maintenance strategies in pigs were evaluated with reference to situations in which limited numbers of viable embryos or micromanipulated embryos are available, such as pig cloning. Development of embryos with compromised zona pellucida was compared with development of embryos with intact zona pellucida. Micromanipulation had no effect on blastocyst production rates after development in vivo or in vitro, but development in vivo improved the number of embryos reaching the blastocyst stage. Transfer of embryos with compromised zona pellucida resulted in live piglets. Several hormone treatments to maintain pregnancy were tested in a model in which three embryos were transferred into unmated recipient gilts, compared with transfer of three embryos into mated recipients. None of the hormonal treatments resulted in pregnancy rates of more than 25% at term and no more than 9% of transferred embryos survived, in comparison with 50% of the mated recipients successfully carrying 25% of transferred embryos. Lastly, the developmental potential of parthenogenetic embryos was assessed and 62% of transferred embryos resulted in pregnancies, none of which continued beyond day 55 of gestation. After co-transfer of three fertilized embryos with 55-60 parthenogenetic embryos into each of six recipients, two live piglets were delivered. The results from the present study indicate that transfer of zona pellucida compromised embryos can yield litters of normal piglets. In addition, it was demonstrated in a model system involving the transfer of three fertilized embryos into mature gilts that hormonal pregnancy maintenance strategies support a low proportion of embryos to term. Lastly, the present study shows for the first time a comparably effective but novel alternative for pregnancy maintenance in the pig involving the co-transfer of parthenote embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this

King, T. J., Dobrinsky, J. R., Zhu, J., Finlayson, H. A., Bosma, W., Harkness, L., Ritchie, W. A., Travers, A., McCorquodale, C., Day, B. N., Dinnyés, A., De Sousa, P. A., & Wilmut, I. (2002). Embryo development and establishment of pregnancy after embryo transfer in pigs: Coping with limitations in the availability of viable embryos. Reproduction, 123(4), 507-515. https://doi.org/10.1530/rep.0.1230507