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      Follicular factors influence oocyte fertilizability by modulating the intercellular cooperation between cumulus cells and oocyte.

      Gamete research
      Animals, Biological Factors, physiology, Cell Communication, Female, Fertility, Fertilization in Vitro, In Vitro Techniques, Male, Oocytes, metabolism, Ovarian Follicle, cytology, secretion, Protein Biosynthesis, Sperm-Ovum Interactions, Swine, Uridine

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          In order to investigate whether the follicular tissue influences cumulus-oocyte interaction and, consequently, the fertilizability of the egg, four experiments were carried out. In the first, cumulus-enclosed pig oocytes were cultured for 44 h in control medium (modified TCM-199) or in follicle-conditioned medium, and the intercellular coupling was studied by measuring 3H-uridine uptake. In control medium the intercellular cooperation started to decline immediately, and at 24-32 h the uncoupling was almost complete. By contrast, in follicle, conditioned medium, it remained at high levels until 24-32 h. In the second experiment protein synthesis patterns of oocytes were studied. Oocytes cultured in conditioned medium were characterized by a 45-kD protein band, while those maturing in control medium were identifiable by a marked 56-kD band. In the third experiment mature oocytes were fertilized in vitro. The percentage of penetrated egg was higher in oocytes matured in conditioned medium than in control medium. In addition, only oocytes matured in conditioned medium could consistently decondense spermatozoa and form male pronuclei. Metabolic cooperation, protein synthesis patterns, and fertilizability were also studied in oocytes matured in control medium supplemented with either 17 beta-estradiol or progesterone or testosterone or dihydrotestosterone or androstenedione or ether extract of conditioned medium. Only ether extract and progesterone stimulated cumulus oocyte interaction and sperm decondensation. In the last experiment oocytes denuded at different stage of their maturation in conditioned medium were fertilized in vitro. The longer the eggs were cultured with the cumulus, the higher was their penetrability. Moreover, only oocytes denuded after 40 h of culture could, once fertilized, promote the formation of male pronuclei. These data demonstrate that follicular secretions are fundamental for the maintenance in vitro of a functional intercellular coupling between cumulus and oocyte, which is necessary for the egg to become penetrable by spermatozoa and to acquire the conditions required for the formation of male pronuclei.

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