Apoptosis during mouse blastocyst formation: evidence for a role for survival factors including transforming growth factor alpha

DR Brison, R. Schultz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Mouse blastocysts undergo cell death in the inner cell mass (ICM) as a normal feature of development, but little is known as to how this event is regulated or as to the possible role of survival factors in preimplantation development. The observation that growth factors, which can influence preimplantation development, can act as survival factors in other cell types led us to investigate the effects of culture in vitro, embryo density during culture, and transforming growth factor alpha (TGF alpha) on cell death in the blastocyst. Mouse blastocysts cultured singly from the 2-cell stage in 25 microl of medium KSOM + amino acids showed a approximately 3-fold increase in the incidence of cell death, predominantly in the ICM, relative to blastocysts formed in vivo. Increasing the density of embryo culture to 30 embryos per 25 microl of culture medium accelerated development, increased final blastocyst cell number, and partially (approximately 50%) reduced the increase in cell death induced by culture in vitro. Addition of 0.1 pM TGF alpha to the medium of singly cultured embryos also partially (33%) reduced this increase in cell death without accelerating development or increasing final cell number. Culturing isolated ICMs for 24 h in the presence of 0.1 pM TGF alpha also partially (33%) reduced the increase in cell death. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling of whole blastocysts confirmed that cell death as detected by fragmented nuclei was apoptotic, as defined by endonuclease activation. Results of these experiments suggest that endogenously produced growth factors may function as cell survival factors during preimplantation development.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBiology of reproduction
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 1997


    • Animals
    • drug effects: Apoptosis
    • cytology: Blastocyst
    • Cell Count
    • Cell Differentiation
    • drug effects: Cell Division
    • Female
    • Male
    • Mice
    • Microscopy, Fluorescence
    • Pregnancy
    • pharmacology: Transforming Growth Factor alpha


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