Effects of cumulus cells on rabbit oocyte in vitro maturation

Y Tao, C Cao, M Zhang, F Fang, Y Liu, Y Zhang, J Ding, X Zhang
Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 2008, 92 (4): 438-47
Cumulus cells (CCs) are of great importance in oocyte development and maturation in many species, but detailed influence of CCs has not been extensively examined, especially on rabbit. The present study was designed to investigate the effects of CCs and the elongation of in vitro maturation (IVM) time on rabbit oocyte nuclear and ooplasmic maturation and survival. Cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) and naked oocytes (NOs) were recovered directly from rabbits super-ovulated with eCG. Corona-enclosed oocytes (COs) and denuded oocytes (DOs) were obtained from COCs after removing a part or whole of CCs. The oocytes were cultured in the following seven groups. (i) Cumulus cell enclosed oocytes (CEOs) were cultured alone (CEOs); (ii) COs were cultured alone (COs); (iii) DOs were cultured alone (DOs); (iv) NOs were cultured alone; (v) DOs were co-cultured with COCs [DOs(COCs)]; (vi) DOs were co-cultured with CCs [DOs(CCs)]; (vii) NOs were co-cultured with CCs [NOs(CCs)]. After the oocytes were cultured for 24 and 30 h, the nuclear maturation was evaluated by first polar body (PB1) extrusion while the ooplasmic maturation was evaluated by the cleavage rate after parthenogenetic activation. The results showed that the nuclear maturation rate of CEOs, COs, DOs(COCs) and DOs(CCs) after 24 h incubation were significantly different from each other (p < or = 0.05), the rate of DOs(CCs) was similar to that of DOs (p > or = 0.05). The cleavage rates in the first two groups were significantly higher than those of the others (p < 0.05). For oocytes cultured for 30 h, the nuclear maturation rates were significantly different for each culture model (p < 0.05). The cleavage rates in first two groups were significantly higher than those of others (p < 0.05). Both the nuclear and cleavage rates significantly increased when the culture time of DOs(COCs) was prolonged from 24 to 30 h. DOs(CCs) nuclear maturation was significantly improved when the culture time was prolonged from 24 to 30 h, but the ooplasmic maturation was not. Few NOs incubated with or without CCs accomplished nuclear maturation (approximately 2% both), even when the culture time was prolonged from 24 to 30 h. The oocyte degeneration rates were significantly different for each culture model after both 24 and 30 h incubation (p < or = 0.05). There was no significant difference in oocyte degeneration in the same groups between 24 and 30 h incubation (p > 0.05). The results suggest that rabbit CCs affect oocyte nuclear and ooplasmic maturation, and their survival. The prolongation of the culture time of rabbit oocyte from 24 to 30 h improves the nuclear and ooplasmic maturation differently in the present system. Rabbit oocytes free of CCs, especially NOs, show weak meiotic resumption potential and compromised viability, which cannot be improved by co-culture with dispersed CCs. The degeneration mostly happens at early time of IVM.

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