To further optimize the culturing of preimplantation embryos, we undertook metabolomic analysis of relevant culture media using capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry (CE-TOFMS). We detected 28 metabolites: 23 embryo-excreted metabolites including 16 amino acids and 5 media-derived metabolites (e.g., octanoate, a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA)). Due to the lack of information on MCFAs in mammalian preimplantation development, this study examined octanoate as a potential alternative energy source for preimplantation embryo cultures. No embryos survived in culture media lacking FAs, pyruvate, and glucose, but supplementation of octanoate rescued the embryonic development. Immunoblotting showed significant expression of acyl-CoA dehydrogenase and hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase, important enzymes for β-oxidation of MCFAs, in preimplantation embryo. Furthermore, CE-TOFMS traced [1-13 C 8[ octanoate added to the culture media into intermediate metabolites of the TCA cycle via β-oxidation in mitochondria. These results are the first demonstration that octanoate could provide an efficient alternative energy source throughout preimplantation development.
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