Author(s): Niimura S
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Abstract Contraction has been observed in cultured blastocysts of many mammals, but little is known about the features of the contraction and its physiological role in blastocysts. The author analyzed contractions of a large number of cultured mouse blastocysts by time-lapse videomicrography. The results revealed that blastocysts repeated contractions of different degrees during the expanded stage from 10 h after blastocoel formation, and that the number of contractions was greater during the hatching period than in the periods pre- and post-hatching. The results also showed that the time needed for both contraction and re-expansion to the size before contraction tended to lengthen in blastocysts severely contracted. It was inferred that contractions of blastocysts occur physiologically in relation to myosin light chain kinase, but not due to an increase in permeability between trophectoderm cells in association with their division, or the influence of culture. Furthermore, it was inferred that re-expansion of contracted blastocysts occurs due to active transport and accumulation of Na(+) from the trophectoderm cells into blastocoelic fluid as a result of the action of Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activated in the membrane of trophectoderm cells. Our results suggested that contractions are also present in blastocysts developed in vivo, and that weak contractions (less than 20\% volume reduction) play an important role in hatching, whereas strong contractions (20\% or more volume reduction) have the effect of inhibiting hatching. From our results on contractions of various blastocysts, it seems possible to evaluate the developmental ability of embryos, i.e. embryo quality, based on contractions of blastocysts.
This article was published in J Reprod Dev
and referenced in Journal of Fertilization: In Vitro - IVF-Worldwide, Reproductive Medicine, Genetics & Stem Cell Biology