Purpose: A microwell culture system that facilitates group culture, such as well-of-the-well (WOW), improves embryonic development in an individual culture. We examined the effect of WOW on embryonic development in vitro with commercially available human single culture media. Methods: Using four different commercial human single culture media, in vitro development and imprinted gene expression of bovine embryos cultured in WOW were compared to droplet culture (one zygote per drop). To determine the effects of microwell and group culture on embryonic development, different numbers of embryos were cultured in droplet or WOW. Diffusion simulation of accumulating metabolites was conducted using the finite volume method. Results: WOW had a positive effect on bovine embryonic development, regardless of the type of single culture media. Imprinted gene expression was not different between droplet- and WOW-derived blastocysts. The microwell and group cultures in WOW showed a significant positive effect on the rate of total blastocysts and the rate of development to the expanded and hatching blastocyst stages. The assumed cumulative metabolite concentration of WOW with one embryo was 1.47 times higher than that of droplet culture with one embryo. Furthermore, the concentration of WOW with three embryos was 1.54 times higher than that of WOW with one embryo. Conclusions: In using human single culture media, a microwell culture system that allows group culture could be a powerful clinical tool for improving the success of assisted reproductive technologies.
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