Currently in vitro
culture of mouse preimplantation embryos has become a very important technique to investigate different mechanisms of early embryogenesis. However, there is a big difference in the preimplantation development between mammalian species. Despite close relatedness to mice, in vitro
cultivation of rat preimplantation embryos is still delicate and needs further investigation and optimizations. In this study we have compared the in vitro
developmental potential of mouse and rat embryos cultured at different culture conditions in parallel experiments. Interestingly, mouse zygotes developed in vitro
until blastocyst stage even in inadequate medium without any phosphates and with low osmolarity which was formulated especially for cultivation of rat embryos. Rat parthenotes and zygotes developed in M16 medium formulated for mouse embryos only till 2-cell stage and further development is blocked completely at this stage. Moreover, developmental ability of rat embryos in vitro
was significantly lower in comparison with mouse even in special rat mR1ECM medium. Mouse and rat embryos at 2-cell stage obtained in vivo
developed until blastocyst stages significantly more efficiently compared to zygotes. Culture of mouse zygotes in glass capillaries resulted in a significantly higher rate of morula and blastocyst development compared with dishes. The Well-of-the-Well system resulted in a significant improvement when compared with dishes for the culture of rat zygotes only until morula stage. Reduced oxygen tension increased the developmental rate of rat but not mouse zygotes until blastocyst stage. This study demonstrates that development of early preimplantation embryos is altered by different culture conditions and show strong differences even between two related species such as mice and rats. Therefore, for understanding the fundamental mechanisms of early mammalian development it is very important to use embryos of various species.