Molecular reproduction and development

Quantifying oxygen diffusion in paraffin oil used in oocyte and embryo culture.

PMID 19672876


Oxygen diffusion through oil is important in the culture of oocytes and embryos. A diffusion coefficient two orders of magnitude smaller than that of oxygen in water has been thought possible, and this has led to concerns of anoxia in cultures. Using an assay for determining the oxygen consumption rate of embryos and oocytes, along with a mathematical model, it is here shown that the oxygen diffusion rate in paraffin oil at 37 degrees C is about two-thirds of that in water at the same temperature. Although not previously recognised for the assay in question, the geometry is such that anoxia does occur for a period of time in excess of 1 hr and, by the completion of the assay, 30-40% of the medium is anoxic. Hence the quantity of oxygen consumed is less than would be consumed in conditions of plentiful oxygen supply. Nevertheless, using a model with a concentration dependent oxygen consumption rate, the oxygen consumption rate can be estimated.