Superovulation Of Rhesus Monkeys And Flushing Embryos From The Reproductive Tract

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The term "superovulation" is used liberally in human clinical IVF, but in that context it implies ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins to recruit large numbers of follicles, which are then aspirated prior to ovulation to recover oocytes. In animal studies, superovulation usually means allowing or inducing gonadotropin-stimulated follicles to ovulate into the oviduct, followed by collection from the reproductive tract of oocytes for IVF or of embryos for further study in vitro. The U.S. cattle breeding industry has been transformed by the application of artificial insemination together with ''Multiple Ovulation and Embryo Transfer'' (MOET: Gearhart et al., 1989), which results in the collection of perhaps 10-20 high-quality embryos for transfer to recipient females. Collection of flushed embryos from non-stimulated rhesus monkey females is feasible, as shown by years of effort at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (Wolfgang et al., 2001). While these embryos are enormously valuable because they are almost certainly ''normal,'' and no comparable human embryos are available, the effort involved in collecting them is huge. The application of the MOET principle to rhesus monkeys would be a considerable advantage for the collection of numerous in vivo produced embryos, but success has never been reported in nonhuman primates. Administration of human recombinant gonado-tropins to monkeys should make the MOET approach more feasible. This in vivo approach would eliminate the need to culture embryos, which avoids introduction of IVP-induced gene expression anomalies. The embryos collected from superovulated rhesus monkeys (morulae and early blastocysts) would be expected to have high viability, which would benefit not only studies on age-related infertility but also production of better quality embryonic stem cells. Because of their immense value for embryological studies, the collection of nonhuman primate embryos produced in vivo should be strongly encouraged.

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