Successful in vitro fertilization in a cat

The team of the In vitro Fertilization Laboratory at the Department of Reproduction with the Department of Farm Animals of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław managed to successfully carry out in vitro fertilization of a domestic cat.

In December 2010, the In vitro Fertilization Laboratory headed by dr hab. Wojciech Niżański. Already in the first days of operation of the unit, the first successful in vitro fertilization of a domestic cat was carried out, which has just been confirmed. The team working in the laboratory under the supervision of dr hab. Wojciech Niżański and prof. Jana Twardoń: Dr. Agnieszka Partyka, Dr. Małgorzata Ochota, MD vet. Natalia Mikołajewska and doctor. Anna Pinkowska.

Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART), including in vitro fertilization, are used in domestic animals in order to accelerate breeding progress through the possibility of obtaining large numbers of offspring from genetically valuable individuals in a short time. In relation to wild animals, in particular endangered species, in vitro techniques are used to use gametes obtained from living individuals for the purpose of in vitro fertilization and transfer of the obtained embryos to the reproductive organs of female recipients. According to today's knowledge, it is the only available technique to maintain or increase the population of animals whose existence is today threatened. Work in the Wrocław center will focus in the future on biotechnology of reproduction in felids, from domestic cats, through lynxes, to wildcats. It is also planned to carry out similar treatments on horses, bison and deer. Due to the great interest of the community involved in professional dog breeding, projects are also being prepared on assisted reproductive techniques in canine animals.

At present, the laboratory conducts several research projects related to in vitro fertilization of domestic cats, vitrification of immature domestic cat eggs, assessment of suitability for in vitro techniques of female equine gametes using fluorescent dyes. The research conducted in the laboratory is aimed at developing in vitro fertilization techniques in endangered wild felids, for which the domestic cat is a very good biological model.

Oocytes and sperm were obtained from gonads removed from animals and intended for disposal. Next year, it is planned to implant the embryos into the uterus of kittens and obtain healthy offspring. When specialists gain experience working with ordinary cats, they want to take care of rarer animals.

In vitro fertilization is used quite widely in the case of farm animals, for example cattle - it is about obtaining a large number of offspring from genetically valuable individuals. In contrast, rare species of in vitro fertilization can save them from extinction by maintaining or expanding the population. Work on "cat" in vitro has been carried out for years - including at the universities of Berlin and Uppsala and the Smithsonian Institute. Offspring of some species have already been obtained there.

"If a female or male of a rare species of wild cat falls, the gonads of the animal are harvested and frozen," Wojciech Niżański, PhD, head of the Department of Reproduction at the Department of Farm Animals at the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław, told PAP. in vitro, which are implanted into females. In Poland, wildcats and lynxes are threatened with extinction. We hope that with the help of other centers it will be possible to obtain healthy offspring of these species using the in vitro method ".

Material sources: Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, PAP

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