SLU's knowledge bank

Metabolic imbalance impairs bovine fertility

Last changed: 20 June 2017

Metabolic imbalance impairs fertility, because changes in concentrations of metabolites and hormones in the blood and follicular fluid create an unfavourable environment for early embryonic development.

Insulin is a key metabolic hormone known for its effects on fertility: insulin concentrations are increased during energy balance disturbances in diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Still, insulin is frequently used at supraphysiological concentrations for embryo in vitro culture with unknown consequences for the developmental potential of the offspring.

In the present study we investigated the effects of insulin exposure during in vitro bovine oocyte maturation on developmental rates, embryo quality and gene expression.

Supplementation of the maturation media with insulin at 10 or 0.1 µg mL–1 decreased blastocyst rates compared with an insulin-free control (19.8 ± 1.3% and 20.4 ± 1.3% vs 23.8 ± 1.3%, respectively; P < 0.05) and led to increased cell numbers (nearly 10% more cells on Day 8 compared with control; P < 0.05). Transcriptome analysis revealed significant upregulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism, nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (NRF2) stress response and cell differentiation, validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction.

To conclude, the results of the present study demonstrate that insulin exposure during in vitro oocyte maturation has a lasting effect on the embryo until the blastocyst stage, with a potential negative effect in the form of specific gene expression perturbations.

Link to the publication


Laskowski Denise, Sjunnesson Ylva, Humblot Patrice, Sirard Marc-André, Andersson Göran, Gustafsson Hans, Båge Renée (2016) Insulin exposure during in vitro bovine oocyte maturation changes blastocyst gene expression and developmental potential. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 29, 876-889.


Denise Laskowski
Doctoral Student at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Reproduction, SLU                                                        

Telephone: +46(0)18-671870, E-mail: