Equine Medical Services is one of the world’s leading producers of in-vitro embryos. Standard in-vitro fertilization procedures have been proven ineffective in horses, but Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) can be very successful.
What is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection?
In the Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection procedure, an oocyte, or egg, is collected from a donor mare’s follicle prior to ovulation and cultured until maturity. Once mature, the oocyte is fertilized in our laboratory via micro-injection of a single sperm cell. The fertilized oocyte should start to divide to become an embryo with the first cell division occurring 24-30 hours after sperm injection. The blastocyst stage is reached after seven to 10 days of culture in an incubator. The embryo can then be transferred to the uterus of a recipient mare, shipped to another facility for transfer or frozen for future use.
Common utilizations of ICSI occur in mares with persistent fertility problems preventing embryo production and in stallions with limited sperm availability. Since only a single sperm cell is injected, ICSI can utilize very small quantities of frozen semen.
What to expect from the ICSI process
Recovery of an oocyte from a dominant follicle can be expected on approximately 75% of attempts. Immature oocytes can often be collected from smaller follicles at the same time. Oocytes fertilized by Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection typically divide and grow on 70-80% of attempts, and of those, 20-30% will grow in culture to the blastocyst stage for non-surgical transfer. Oocyte quality and vigor tend to decline with the donor mare’s age, so older donors typically have lower success rates than younger mares. Oocyte numbers can be a limiting factor as well―some mares have many small follicles each cycle which facilitate the recovery of multiple oocytes, while others have only one or two follicles present in each cycle.
On average, a donor mare will require three cycles to establish a pregnancy. This can vary as some mares establish multiple pregnancies in their first cycle, while others with decreased oocyte viability may prove to be more challenging.
Equine Medical Services Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection Program
Equine Medical Service offers two primary options for our Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection programs: you may bring your mare to our facility for management throughout the oocyte recovery and ICSI process, or you may have follicular aspiration performed at another facility and have the oocytes shipped to EMS for ICSI.
Standard In-House ICSI Program
2019 initial entry fee: $1,800
This fee covers normal breeding management of the donor mare, as well as maintenance and monitoring of suitable recipient mares. It is a one-time annual fee, regardless of the number of pregnancies achieved. Each oocyte collection session is $350, and an additional fee of $350 applies for each oocyte maturation and ICSI.
Once a recipient mare reaches 30 days of gestation with a viable pregnancy there is a lease fee of $3,900 or $4,500 for draft horse embryos.
Transported Oocyte ICSI Program
Transported oocytes may be managed in two ways: resulting embryos can be transferred to EMS recipients, or they may be shipped back to your veterinarian for transfer.
Transported oocyte for ICSI: There is no initial entry fee for this program, in which EMS will ship the embryo back to the referring veterinarian for transfer. Oocyte maturation is $200, ICSI is $350 and a $1,000 fee applies for each resulting blastocyst.
Transported oocyte for ICSI and Embryo Transfer: This program requires a $1,000 initial nomination fee, which provides for the transfer of an embryo into an EMS recipient mare. Oocyte maturation is $200, ICSI is $350 and there is no blastocyst fee. When the recipient mare reaches 30 days gestation with a viable pregnancy, there is a lease fee of $3,900 (or $4,500 for draft horse embryos).