Maternal effect genes (MEG) play a crucial role in early embryogenesis. In vitro culture conditions may affect MEG expression in porcine oocytes and embryos. We investigated whether in vitro culture medium supplementation with epidermal growth factor (EGF), IL-1β or LIF (leukemia inhibitory factor) affects the mRNA level of ZAR-1 (zygote arrest 1), NPM2 (nucleoplasmin 2) and DPPA3 (developmental associated protein 3) in porcine MII oocytes and embryos. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were matured in NCSU-37 medium (control) or in NCSU-37 with EGF 10 ng/ml, IL-1β 10 ng/ml or LIF 50 ng/ml. After maturation for 44–46 h, MII oocytes were preserved for the analysis of MEG mRNA levels (experiment 1). In experiment 2, COCs were fertilized, and the presumptive zygotes were cultured in the same groups. Then, 2-, 4-, 8-cell embryos, morulae and blastocysts were collected for the analysis of MEG mRNA levels. LIF addition to the maturation medium increased MII oocyte numbers (P < 0.05), while EGF and IL-1β did not affect oocyte maturation. Medium supplementation with EGF resulted in lower DPPA3 mRNA levels in MII oocytes and in 2- and 4-cell embryos versus control embryos (P < 0.05). LIF treatment increased DPPA3 mRNA levels in morulae and blastocysts (P < 0.05). Culture with EGF and IL-1β decreased ZAR-1 and NPM2 mRNA levels in 2-cell embryos (P < 0.05). The inclusion of EGF or IL-1β in the porcine in vitro production system influences ZAR-1, NPM2 and DPPA3 mRNA in MII oocytes and embryos but not beyond the 4-cell stage. LIF stimulates oocyte maturation and affects DPPA3 mRNA in porcine morulae and blastocysts in vitro.
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