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Small day 8 equine embryos cannot be rescued by a less advanced recipient mare uterus

Cuervo-Arango, J., Claes, A.N., Stout, T.A.E.
Theriogenology 2019 v.126 pp. 36-40
embryonic mortality, mares, pregnancy, regression analysis, risk, uterus, viability
Equine embryos tolerate an unusually large degree of negative uterine asynchrony (recipient mare up to 5 days behind the donor mare). By contrast, positive asynchrony of more than 2 days results in a high incidence of early embryonic loss (EEL). Day 8 embryos range in diameter from approximately 130-1300 μm, with embryos smaller than 300 μm reported to suffer an increased incidence of EEL. However, it is not known whether this reduced viability is due to intrinsically poor embryo quality, or to inadvertent recipient uterine stage-embryo (positive) asynchrony. To examine whether small embryos survive better in Day 4–5 recipients than in recipients with a more advanced uterine stage, the likelihood of pregnancy (PR) and EEL for 62 small (<300 μm) and 215 larger Day 8 horse embryos were compared after transfer to recipients at different uterine stages (Days 4–5, 6–7 and 8–9) using logistic regression. Overall, EEL was higher (21.2%; P < 0.05) for small than larger embryos (7.1%). However, neither PR nor EEL were influenced by the recipient's uterine stage at the time of transfer (P > 0.1). The EEL for small embryos transferred into Day 4–5, 6–7 and 8–9 recipients was 20.8, 18.7 and 25.0%, respectively. We conclude that embryos recovered on Day 8 with a diameter <300 μm are at increased risk of EEL due to reasons other than inadvertent positive asynchrony with the recipient mare's uterus.