Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection and Embryo Services

About intracytoplasmic sperm injection

The intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure involves micro-injection of a single sperm cell into the ooplasm of a mature oocyte. The fertilized oocyte is returned to an incubator in an effort to support development into an embryo reaching transferrable quality, typically within 6-8 days.

Because the preservation of semen is essential in many situations, we can talk to you about options for maximizing the use of semen. Some options include refreezing sperm in small numbers in straws specifically designed for ICSI or cutting a small portion of a straw under liquid nitrogen.

Because ICSI utilizes a single sperm cell for each oocyte, this procedure holds tremendous potential for the production of foals using semen from stallions with low numbers of sperm or poorer sperm quality.

ICSI-produced embryo transfer and freezing options

Transferring ICSI-produced embryos

Fresh transfer of embryos into recipient mare

The Equine Reproduction Laboratory manages its own leased recipient herd and embryos produced in our ICSI lab can be transferred (pending developmental stage) into a synchronized recipient mare. If you elect to use one of our recipient mares, this service must be selected at the signing of the contract to ensure proper communication and synchronization of mares. Learn more about our embryo transfer services.

Auto-transfer back into donor mare

Many mare owners have a young, healthy donor mare that is reproductively sound enough to carry her own ICSI-produced pregnancy. In this scenario, owners have chosen to breed this mare to a stallion with either poor quality or limited quantities of semen. We refer to this option as an “auto-transfer” and aim to accomplish all steps within a given estrus cycle. If your mare is suitable to carry her own pregnancy this may be an option and will need to be discussed prior to the initiation of services.

Shipped to another embryo transfer facility

We understand that equine logistics can be complicated, therefore we facilitate embryo shipment to another embryo transfer station, at the mare owner’s request. You should contact your embryo transfer station ahead of time to complete appropriate contracts and provide a copy to the Equine Reproduction Laboratory. Our staff will handle communication to synchronize the recipient mare.

Freezing ICSI-produced embryos

Embryo vitrification can be used as a means to cryopreserve (freeze) embryos from donor mares to be used at a later date. The procedure is most successful with smaller embryos. Once quality embryos are vitrified, they are placed in liquid nitrogen and can be stored indefinitely. Vitrified embryos can be warmed and transferred at a later date selected by the embryo owner.

Prior to initiation of each breeding season, vitrified embryo owners will receive a letter from the Equine Reproduction Laboratory asking for the desired month of warming/transfer, and for those with multiple embryos, the number of embryos to be transferred during the season. An appropriate recipient mare will be synchronized to receive the embryo.

Each owner/lessee should understand the regulations of their breed registry regarding registration of any resulting foals from vitrified embryos, and any effect of transferring an embryo in a year other than that of the recorded breeding year.

Vitrified embryos can be stored at the Equine Reproduction Laboratory for $25 per month (up to four embryos). We can also ship embryos to a preferred storage facility of your choice. Additional fees apply.