Home General Physiology and Biophysics 2013 General Physiology and Biophysics Vol.32, No.1, p.129–137, 2013

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Founded: 1982
ISSN  1338-4325 (online)

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General Physiology and Biophysics Vol.32, No.1, p.129–137, 2013

Title: Maternal restraint stress negatively influences growth capacity of preimplantation mouse embryos
Author: Ján Burkuš, Štefan Čikoš, Dušan Fabian, Janka Kubandová, Soňa Czikková, Juraj Koppel


In our study we investigated the effect of maternal restraint stress on preimplantation embryo development using a mouse model. We exposed hormonally stimulated (superovulated) and unstimulated (i.e. spontaneously ovulating) mouse females to restraint stress for 30 min three times a day during the preimplantation period. The stress exposure caused significant increase in blood plasma corticosterone concentration.

Microscopical evaluation of embryos isolated from spontaneously ovulating females showed that maternal stress significantly increased the proportion of embryos with lower cell numbers (≤32 cells) and decreased the proportion of embryos with higher cell numbers (65–96 cells and 97–128 cells).

Moreover maternal restraint stress decreased the cell counts per embryo and per blastocyst. After an additional 24 h in vitro culture we did not find any difference in the embryo distribution or in the cell counts per embryo/blastocyst between embryos isolated from stressed and control mothers. The exposure to restraint stress did not affect the incidence of apoptosis in blastocysts isolated from spontaneously ovulated dams. In gonadotropin stimulated dams, the hormonal treatment itself notably changed embryo distribution (increasing the proportion of degenerated embryos) and increased the occurrence of apoptotic cells. Our results indicate that psychical stress exposure in very early pregnancy can significantly influence the developmental capacity of preimplantation embryos.

Keywords: Maternal stress — Preimplantation embryo — Apoptosis
Year: 2013, Volume: 32, Issue: 1 Page From: 129, Page To: 137

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