Epidermal growth factor enhances preimplantation developmental competence of maturing mouse oocytes

R De La Fuente, M J O'Brien, J J Eppig
Human Reproduction 1999, 14 (12): 3060-8
The objective of this study was to determine whether epidermal growth factor (EGF) promotes nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation of mouse oocytes grown in vivo or in vitro. In-vivo-grown oocytes were isolated at the germinal vesicle (GV) stage from gonadotrophin-primed (PR) or -unprimed (UPR) 22-day-old mice before in-vitro maturation (IVM). In-vitro-grown (IVG) oocytes were isolated from preantral follicles of 12-day-old mice and grown in vitro without gonadotrophins for 10 days before maturation (IVG/IVM oocytes). IVM and IVG/IVM oocytes were matured in medium supplemented with either EGF (10 ng/ml), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) (100 ng/ml), EGF plus FSH, or with neither ligand (control). When oocyte-cumulus cell complexes were isolated from PR and UPR mice, IVM with EGF (10 ng/ml), alone or in combination with FSH (100 ng/ml), increased (P < 0.05) the incidence of nuclear maturation to metaphase II. Cytoplasmic maturation of oocytes from PR females, manifested as increased frequency of cleavage to the 2-cell stage and development to the blastocyst stage, was also enhanced with EGF (P < 0.05). Moreover, EGF increased the number of cells per blastocyst, but only in the absence of FSH (P < 0.01). In contrast, EGF, FSH, or EGF plus FSH did not affect the percentage of oocytes from UPR mice completing preimplantation development, but did increase the number of cells per blastocyst. These ligands also increased the proportion of IVG oocytes reaching metaphase II (53-57%) compared with controls (25%; P < 0.05). EGF alone or in combination with FSH increased (P < 0.05) the frequency of blastocyst formation (23% and 28%, respectively) compared with controls (13%). EGF treatment of maturing IVG oocytes produced blastocysts with more cells than other IVG groups (P < 0.05). It is concluded that gonadotrophins in vivo increase the sensitivity or responsiveness of cumulus cell-enclosed oocytes to EGF, thereby promoting both nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation. However, oocyte-granulosa cell complexes grown in vitro become responsive to EGF without gonadotrophin treatment. Thus, nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation of IVG oocytes is promoted by EGF treatment during meiotic maturation.

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