The promotory effect of growth hormone on the developmental competence of in vitro matured bovine oocytes is due to improved cytoplasmic maturation

F Izadyar, W J Hage, B Colenbrander, M M Bevers
Molecular Reproduction and Development 1998, 49 (4): 444-53
In a previous study we have shown that the addition of growth hormone (GH) during in vitro maturation accelerates nuclear maturation, induces cumulus expansion, and promotes subsequent cleavage and embryonic development. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the promotory effect of GH on subsequent cleavage and blastocyst formation is due to an improved fertilization and whether this effect is caused by an improved cytoplasmic maturation of the oocyte. Therefore, bovine cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) were cultured for 22 hours in M199 supplemented with 100 ng/ml bovine GH (NIH-GH-B18). Subsequently the COCs were fertilized in vitro. Cultures without GH served as controls. To verify whether the promoted fertilization is caused by the effect of GH on cumulus expansion or oocyte maturation, cumulus cells were removed from the oocytes after in vitro maturation (IVM) and denuded MII oocytes were selected and fertilized in vitro. Both IVM and in vitro fertilization (IVF) were performed at 39 degrees C in a humidified atmosphere with 5% CO2 in air. At 18 hours after the onset of fertilization, the nuclear stage of the oocytes was assessed using 4,6-diamino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining. Oocytes with either an metaphase I (MI) or MII nuclear stage and without penetrated sperm head were considered unfertilized; oocytes with two pronuclei, zygotes, and cleaved embryos were considered normally fertilized; and oocytes with more than two pronuclei were considered polyspermic. To evaluate cytoplasmic maturation, the distribution of cortical granules 22 hours after the onset of IVM, and sperm aster formation 8 hours after the onset of fertilization were assessed. In addition, to assess the sperm-binding capacity, COCs were fertilized in vitro, and 1 hour after the onset of fertilization the number of spermatozoa bound to the oocytes was counted. The addition of GH during IVM significantly (P < 0.001) enhanced the proportion of normal fertilized oocytes. Removal of the cumulus cells prior to fertilization and selection of the MII oocytes did not eliminate the positive effect of GH on fertilization. No effect of GH on the sperm-binding capacity of the oocyte was observed. In addition, GH supplementation during IVM significantly (P < 0.001) enhanced the migration of cortical granules and sperm aster formation. It can be concluded that the promotory effect of GH on the developmental competence of the oocyte is due to a higher fertilization rate as a consequence of an improved cytoplasmic maturation.

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