Changes in the cumulus-oocyte complex of subordinate follicles relative to follicular wave status in cattle

D F Salamone, G P Adams, R J Mapletoft
Theriogenology 1999, 52 (4): 549-61
We investigated factors that affect cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) morphology and oocyte developmental competence in subordinate follicles on different days after follicular wave emergence in beef heifers. In Experiment 1, heifers (n = 13) were assigned at random to COC aspiration during the growing/static (Days 1 to 3) or regressing (Day 5) phase of subordinate follicle development (follicular wave emergence = Day 0). Follicular wave emergence was induced by transvaginal ultrasound-guided follicular ablation, ovaries were collected at slaughter, all follicles > or = 2 mm except the dominant follicle were aspirated, and COC were microscopically evaluated for morphology. There was a greater percentage of COC with expanded cumulus layers on Day 5 (42.4%) than on Days 1 to 3 (2.2%). In Experiment 2, heifers (n = 64) at random stages of the estrous cycle had all follicles > or = 5 mm ablated and 4 d later, 2 doses of PGF were injected 12 h apart; heifers were monitored daily by ultrasonography for ovulation (Day 0 = follicular wave emergence). Heifers were assigned to the following time periods for oocyte collection from subordinate follicles: Days 0 and 1 (growing phase), Days 2, 3 and 4 (static phase), and Days 5 and 6 (regressing phase). Ovaries were individually collected at slaughter, and all follicles > or 2 mm except for the dominant follicle were aspirated. The COC were morphologically evaluated and then matured, fertilized and cultured in vitro. Expanded COC were more frequent during the regressing phase (53.4%) than the growing or static phase (14.4 and 17.8%, respectively; P < 0.05). While the proportions of COC with > or = 4 layers of cumulus cells and denuded oocytes were higher (P < 0.05) in the growing and static phases, the production of morulae was highest (P < 0.05) with COC collected from subordinate follicles during the regressing phase. In Experiment 3, heifers (n = 18) were assigned at random to oocyte collection from subordinate follicles 3 and 4 d (static phase) or 5 and 6 d (regressing phase) after follicular wave emergence. The heifers were monitored ultrasonically for ovulation (Day 0 = follicular wave emergence); COC were collected from all follicles (> or = 5 mm) except for the dominant follicle by transvaginal ultrasound-guided follicle aspiration 3 to 6 d later. Recovered oocytes were stained and examined microscopically to evaluate nuclear maturation. A higher proportion of oocytes collected on Days 5 and 6 showed evidence of nuclear maturation (50%) than on Days 3 and 4 (8.3%; P < 0.05). Results support the hypothesis that COC morphology and oocyte developmental competence change during the growing, static and regressing phases of subordinate follicle development.

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