Naturally occurring mastitis disrupts developmental competence of bovine oocytes

Z. Roth*, A. Dvir, D. Kalo, Y. Lavon, O. Krifucks, D. Wolfenson, G. Leitner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We examined the effects of naturally occurring mastitis on bovine oocyte developmental competence in vitro. Specifically, we investigated the effects of intramammary infection on the ovarian pool of oocytes (i.e., follicle-enclosed oocytes) and their ability to undergo in vitro maturation, fertilization, and further development to the blastocyst stage. Culled Holstein cows (n = 50) from 9 commercial dairy farms in Israel were allotted to 3 groups according to somatic cell count (SCC) records of the last 3 monthly milk tests as well as of quarter samples collected before slaughter: (1) low SCC (n = 7), (2) medium SCC (n = 16), or (3) high SCC (n = 27). Means of SCC values differed among low-, medium-, and high-SCC groups: 148,000, 311,000 and 1,813,000. cell/mL milk, respectively. Milk yield and days in milk did not differ among the 3 groups. Bacterial isolates included coagulase-negative staphylococci, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus dysgalactiae, or no bacteria found. Ovaries were collected at the abattoir and brought to the laboratory. Cumulus oocyte complexes were recovered separately from each cow and subjected individually to in vitro maturation and fertilization, followed by 8. d in culture. The number of aspirated oocytes did not differ among groups, with a range of 17 to 21 oocytes per cow. The proportion of oocytes that cleaved into 2- to 4-cell-stage embryos (86.1 ± 3.4%) did not differ among groups. In contrast, mean percentages of embryos developed to the blastocyst stage on d 7 and 8 after fertilization were less in both medium- and-high SCC groups than in the low-SCC group (5.6 ± 2.3 and 4.1 ± 1.8 vs. 18.1 ± 4.6%, respectively). Additional analysis indicated that cleavage and blastocyst-formation rates did not differ among the bacterial types in the low-, medium-, and high-SCC groups. These are the first results to demonstrate that naturally occurring mastitis disrupts the developmental competence of the ovarian pool of oocytes, (i.e., oocytes at the germinal vesicle stage). The disruption was associated with elevation of SCC rather than bacterial type. The results may provide a partial explanation for the low fertility of cows that have contracted mastitic pathogens before insemination.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6499-6505
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Blastocyst
  • Cow
  • Mastitis
  • Oocyte


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