Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Walsh SC et al. (2023) Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 35(5), 375–394. doi:10.1071/RD22210


Open access.


Context. The exact mechanisms regulating the initiation of porcine conceptus elongation are not known due to the complexity of the uterine environment. Aims. To identify contributing factors for initiation of conceptus elongation in vitro, this study evaluated differential metabolite abundance within media following culture of blastocysts within unmodified alginate (ALG) or Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-modified alginate hydrogel culture systems. Methods. Blastocysts were harvested from pregnant gilts, encapsulated within ALG or RGD or as non-encapsulated control blastocysts (CONT), and cultured. At the termination of 96 h culture, media were separated into blastocyst media groups: non-encapsulated control blastocysts (CONT); ALG and RGD blastocysts with no morphological change (ALG− and RGD−); ALG and RGD blastocysts with morphological changes (ALG+ and RGD+) and evaluated for non-targeted metabolomic profiling by liquid chromatography (LC)–mass spectrometry (MS) techniques and gas chromatography– (GC–MS). Key results. Analysis of variance identified 280 (LC–MS) and 1 (GC–MS) compounds that differed (P < 0.05), of which 134 (LC–MS) and 1 (GC–MS) were annotated. Metabolites abundance between ALG+ vs ALG−, RGD+ vs RGD−, and RGD+ vs ALG+ were further investigated to identify potential differences in metabolic processes during the initiation of elongation. Conclusions. This study identified changes in phospholipid, glycosphingolipid, lipid signalling, and amino acid metabolic processes as potential RGD-independent mechanisms of elongation and identified changes in lysophosphatidylcholine and sphingolipid secretions during RGD-mediated elongation. Implications. These results illustrate changes in phospholipid and sphingolipid metabolic processes and secretions may act as mediators of the RGD-integrin adhesion that promotes porcine conceptus elongation.