The effects of water-soluble vitamins, singly or in combinations, on development of hamster 1-cell embryos were examined in a protein-free, chemically defined culture medium, HECM-6. Pantothenate significantly stimulated blastocyst development compared to the vitamin-free control and to every other single vitamin, except thiamine. Ascorbic acid, biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, niacinamide, pyridoxal, riboflavin and thiamine had no detectable stimulation or inhibition on cleavage stage development or morula/blastocyst formation. When combinations of vitamins were tested, embryo development was either unchanged or significantly greater than in the control, but never significantly greater than development with pantothenate alone. A dose response to pantothenate indicated that 3 micromol/l was the optimum concentration. After embryo transfer, the percentage of live fetuses recovered per 100 1-cell embryos cultured in HECM-6 plus pantothenate (now designated HECM-9) was 24%, significantly higher than the 11% recovered from 100 1-cell embryos cultured in HECM-6 alone. This is the first report to show a stimulatory effect of a single vitamin on in-vitro development of preimplantation embryos in any mammalian species.
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