The present study examined the effects of gonadotropins and ovarian steroids during in vitro meiotic maturation of rat oocytes on their ability to undergo in vitro fertilization. Fully grown oocytes were isolated from antral follicles of immature rats and cultured as oocyte‐cumulus cell complexes (OCC) under conditions in which completion of meiotic maturation occurs spontaneously. They were then exposed to spermatozoa under conditions in which oocytes matured in vivo exhibit high fertilization rates. Compared with oocytes from pregnant mare's serum gonadotropin (PMSG) or follicle‐stimulating hormone (FSH)‐treated rats, a simiiar proportion of the oocytes (>80%) from untreated rats underwent germinal vesicle breakdown, but such oocytes had a lower rate of fertilization (70% vs. 20%). The presence of FSH during in vitro maturation restored the fertilization rate for oocytes from untreated rats, while a cytochrome P450 inhibitor, aminoglutethimide phosphate abolished this beneficial effect of FSH. The addition of progesterone during the in vitro maturation period duplicated the beneficial effect of FSH on fertilization rate of oocytes from untreated rats; oestradiol‐17β was less effective in this regard, and 5α‐dihydrotestosterone was ineffective. These findings indicate that FSH and progesterone, although having no apparent effect on nuclear maturation of the oocyte, play an important role during oocyte maturation in enabling normal fertilization to occur.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology