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Kolle, S.; Stojkovic, M.; Reese, Sven ORCID: 0000-0002-4605-9791; Reichenbach, Horst-Dieter; Wolf, E.; Sinowatz, Fred (2004): Effects of growth hormone on the ultrastructure of bovine preimplantation embryos. In: Cell and Tissue Research, Vol. 317, No. 1: pp. 101-108
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Growth hormone (GH) has recently been shown to promote the development of preimplantation embryos. The aim of our study was therefore to analyze the effects of GH on the morphology and ultrastructure of the cells of bovine preimplantation embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF). In order to determine the physiologically optimal morphology of blastocysts, ex vivo embryos obtained by uterine flushing were also included in the study. As shown by transmission electron microscopy, treatment with GH induced the elimination of glycogen storage in cells of the inner cell mass of 7-day-old embryos. GH also stimulated the exocytosis of lipid vesicles in the inner cell mass and trophectoderm cells of these embryos. Quantitative analysis of micrographs demonstrated a higher volume density of embryonic mitochondria in 7-day-old embryos cultured with GH than in control embryos. Treatment with GH regularly resulted in an improvement of the ultrastructural features of embryos produced in vitro, thus resembling the morphology of ex vivo embryos. Scanning electron-microscopy studies demonstrated that GH altered the structure and the pore size of the zona pellucida of blastocysts. Our studies imply that GH can modulate carbohydrate, lipid, and energy metabolism and influence transportation processes in the early IVF embryo.