UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Exposure of bovine oocytes and embryos to elevated non-esterified fatty acid concentrations : integration of epigenetic and transcriptomic signatures in resultant blastocysts Desmet, K. L J; Van Hoeck, V.; Gagné, D.; Fournier, E.; Thakur, A.; O’Doherty, A. M; Walsh, C. P; Sirard, M. A; Bols, P. E J; Leroy, J. L M R


Background Metabolic stress associated with negative energy balance in high producing dairy cattle and obesity in women is a risk factor for decreased fertility. Non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) are involved in this pathogenesis as they jeopardize oocyte and embryo development. Growing evidence indicates that maternal metabolic disorders can disturb epigenetic programming, such as DNA methylation, in the offspring. Oocyte maturation and early embryo development coincide with methylation changes and both are sensitive to adverse environments. Therefore, we investigated whether elevated NEFA concentrations affect establishment and maintenance of DNA methylation in oocytes and embryos, subsequently altering transcriptomic profiles and developmental competence of resultant blastocysts. Results Bovine oocytes and embryos were exposed to different NEFA concentrations in separate experiments. In the first experiment, oocytes were matured in vitro for 24 h in medium containing: 1) physiological (“BASAL”) concentrations of oleic (OA), palmitic (PA) and stearic (SA) acid or 2) pathophysiological (“HIGH COMBI”) concentrations of OA, PA and SA. In the second experiment, zygotes were cultivated in vitro for 6.5 days under BASAL or HIGH COMBI conditions. Developmental competence was evaluated by assessing cleavage and blastocyst rate. Overall gene expression and DNA methylation of resultant blastocysts were analyzed using microarray. DNA methylation data were re-evaluated by pyrosequencing. HIGH COMBI-exposed oocytes and embryos displayed a lower competence to develop into blastocysts compared to BASAL-exposed counterparts (19.3% compared to 23.2% and 18.2% compared to 25.3%, respectively) (P 

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