Effect of GnRH treatment on the maturation and in vitro development of oocytes collected from 4- to 6-week-old Merino lambs

Jennifer M Kelly, David O Kleemann, W M Chis Maxwell, Simon K Walker
Reproduction, Fertility, and Development 2007, 19 (8): 947-53
Two experiments were conducted in Merino lambs to examine the effects of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) treatment on the developmental competence of oocytes collected after pretreatment with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The first experiment examined the effects of six GnRH treatment times (control and GnRH administered 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 h before oocyte collection) and four in vitro maturation (IVM) periods (18, 20, 22, 24 h) on the rate of oocyte nuclear maturation. The second experiment examined the effect of five GnRH treatment times (control and GnRH administered 2, 4, 6 and 8 h before oocyte collection) and three IVM periods (20, 22, 24 h) on the development of oocytes and embryos after in vitro maturation, fertilisation and culture. In Experiment 1, GnRH treatment did not influence the mean number of cumulus-oocyte-complexes (COCs) collected or COC morphology at the time of collection. However, treatment changed (P < 0.01) the distribution of follicle size and this was primarily due to a marked reduction in the number of follicles with diameters <2 mm. In addition, GnRH treatment at 6 and 8 h increased (P < 0.01) the proportion of oocytes that developed to Metaphase II (MII) (63.2 and 72.6%, respectively) compared with other treatment times (range 52.9-59.9%). Nuclear maturation was influenced by a significant (P < 0.05) interaction between GnRH treatment and IVM period due to a disproportionately greater number of oocytes at the germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) stage for the 2 and 4 h GnRH treatments compared with other treatments. In Experiment 2, cleavage rate (range 63.5-85.9%) was highest when GnRH was administered 8 h before collection but the percentage of cleaved oocytes that developed into blastocysts (range 10.0-35.0%) was significantly (P < 0.05) lower for the 6 and 8 h GnRH treatments compared with the control and the 2 h GnRH treatment. These results demonstrate that GnRH treatment before oocyte collection can improve nuclear maturation and cleavage rates in lamb oocytes but that these improvements are not reflected in improved rates of blastocyst development. It is speculated that this discrepancy may result from GnRH treatment either adversely affecting cytoplasmic maturation or inducing asynchrony between the maturation of the nuclear and cytoplasmic components of the oocyte.

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