Fertilized embryos developed in an oviduct-on-a-chip resemble embryos produced in the natural situation, whereas embryos produced by conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF) differ markedly from both. That is the conclusion of Bart Gadella from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and colleagues in an article in Nature Communications. IVF is a commonly used technique for treating infertility and producing embryos in both human patients and in animal breeding. In the natural situation, fertilization takes place in the oviduct, this is more efficient than IVF and yields embryos with better characteristics for the production of offspring.
Using 3-D perfused cell-culture technology, a 3-D cattle oviduct-on-a-chip culture system was developed in which an ‘oviduct’ was established on a porous membrane. In this way, the blood circulation can be mimicked by passing fluid through the chamber under the membrane, allowing simulation of the hormonal changes that take place just before a normal ovulation. In the chamber above the oviduct on a membrane, spermatozoa and eggs can be introduced and activated to yield a more natural fertilization proces