Scientific reports

Nonsurgical deep uterine transfer of vitrified, in vivo-derived, porcine embryos is as effective as the default surgical approach.

PMID 26030839


Surgical procedures are prevalent in porcine embryo transfer (ET) programs, where the use of vitrified embryos is quasi non-existent. This study compared the effectiveness of surgical vs nonsurgical deep uterine (NsDU) ET using vitrified, in vivo-derived embryos (morulae and blastocysts) on the reproductive performance and welfare of the recipients. The recipient sows (n=122) were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: surgical ET with 30 vitrified-warmed embryos (S-30 group, control); NsDU-ET with 30 vitrified-warmed embryos (NsDU-30 group) and NsDU-ET with 40 vitrified-warmed embryos (NsDU-40 group). Regardless of embryo stage, the NsDU-ET with 40 embryos presented similar rates of farrowing (72.7%) and litter size (9.9 ± 2.1 piglets) as the customary surgical procedure (75.0% and 9.6 ± 2.7 piglets). Numbers of ET-embryos appeared relevant, since the NsDU-ET with 30 embryos resulted in a decrease (P<0.05) in farrowing rates (38.9%) and litter sizes (5.7 ± 2.4 piglets). In conclusion, we demonstrate for the first time that farrowing rate and litter size following a NsDU-ET procedure increase in function of a larger number of transferred vitrified embryos, with fertility equalizing that obtained with the invasive surgical approach. The results open new possibilities for the widespread use of non-invasive ET in pigs.