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Extracellular Vesicles, the Road toward the Improvement of ART Outcomes

Nowadays, farm animal industries use assisted reproductive technologies (ART) as a tool to manage herds’ reproductive outcomes, for a fast dissemination of genetic improvement as well as to bypass subfertility issues. ART comprise at least one of the following procedures: collection and handling of oocytes, sperm, and embryos in in vitro conditions. Therefore, in these conditions, the interaction with the oviductal environment of gametes and early embryos during fertilization and the first stages of embryo development is lost. As a result, embryos obtained in in vitro fertilization (IVF) have less quality in comparison with those obtained in vivo, and have lower chances to implant and develop into viable offspring. In addition, media currently used for IVF are very similar to those empirically developed more than five decades ago. Recently, the importance of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the fertility process has flourished. EVs are recognized as effective intercellular vehicles for communication as they deliver their cargo of proteins, lipids, and genetic material. Thus, during their transit through the female reproductive tract both gametes, oocyte and spermatozoa (that previously encountered EVs produced by male reproductive tract) interact with EVs produced by the female reproductive tract, passing them important information that contributes to a successful fertilization and embryo development. This fact highlights that the reproductive tract EVs cargo has an important role in reproductive events, which is missing in current ART media. This review aims to recapitulate recent advances in EVs functions on the fertilization process, highlighting the latest proposals with an applied approach to enhance ART outcome through EV utilization as an additive to the media of current ART procedures.
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