Pro-apoptotic Effect of Pifithrin-α on Preimplantation Porcine In vitro Fertilized Embryo Development

  • Mulligan, Brendan ;
  • Hwang, Jae-Yeon ;
  • Kim, Hyung-Min ;
  • Oh, Jong-Nam ;
  • Choi, Kwang-Hwan ;
  • Lee, Chang-Kyu
  • Received : 2012.07.25
  • Accepted : 2012.09.13
  • Published : 2012.12.01


The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of a reported p53 inhibitor, pifithrin-${\alpha}$ (PFT-${\alpha}$), on preimplantation porcine in vitro fertilized (IVF) embryo development in culture. Treatment of PFT-${\alpha}$ was administered at both early (0 to 48 hpi), and later stages (48 to 168 hpi) of preimplantation development, and its impact upon the expression of five genes related to apoptosis (p53, bak, bcl-xL, p66Shc and caspase3), was assessed in resulting d 7 blastocysts, using real-time quantitative PCR. Total cell numbers, along with the number of apoptotic nuclei, as detected by the in situ cell death detection assay, were also calculated on d 7 in treated and non-treated control embryos. The results indicate that PFT-${\alpha}$, when administered at both early and later stages of porcine IVF embryo development, increases the incidence of apoptosis in resulting blastocysts. When administered at early cleavage stages, PFT-${\alpha}$ treatment was shown to reduce the developmental competence of porcine IVF embryos, as well as reducing the quality of resulting blastocysts in terms of overall cell numbers. In contrast, at later stages, PFT-${\alpha}$ administration resulted in marginally increased blastocyst development rates amongst treated embryos, but did not affect cell numbers. However, PFT-${\alpha}$ treatment induced apoptosis and apoptotic related gene expression, in all treated embryos, irrespective of the timing of treatment. Our results indicate that PFT-${\alpha}$ may severely compromise the developmental potential of porcine IVF embryos, and is a potent apoptotic agent when placed into porcine embryo culture media. Thus, caution should be exercised when using PFT-${\alpha}$ as a specific inhibitor of p53 mediated apoptosis, in the context of porcine IVF embryo culture systems.


Apoptosis;In vitro Fertilization;Pifithrin-${\alpha}$;Blastocyst;Preimplantation Embryo;Pig


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