Several studies have investigated the effect of exposure to visible light on the development of mammalian preimplantation embryos in vitro. Collection and culture of embryos from the hamster (280), and rabbit (278,281) under low illumination increased development and cleavage in vitro. Exposure of hamster oocytes for one hour to visible light prior to insemination disrupted the completion of meiosis and fertilization (282). In the human, implementation of an oocyte collection system employing low light at low oxygen concentration resulted in significantly increased rates of blastocyst formation of spare embryos and increased pregnancy and live birth weights when embryos were transferred on days 2-4 of culture (283). Bedford and Dobrenis (284) reported that a 20-30 minute exposure of rabbit oocytes to light did not affect subsequent fertilization in vivo or resultant pregnancy rates. However, these oocytes were immediately transferred to the reproductive tract of a recipient and not maintained in culture. Therefore, it would seem prudent to perform all oocyte and embryo collections and manipulations under low illumination.
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