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Korean Journal of Fertility and Sterility 2004;31(3):155-168.
Published online September 1, 2004.
Effects of Melatonin on the Meiotic Maturation of Mouse Oocytes in vitro.
Hee Jin Ahn, In Ha Bae
Department of Biology, Graduated School, Sungshin Women's University, Korea.
Melatonin, which is secreted by pineal gland play an important role in the regulation of ovarian function via seasonal rhythm and sleep in most mammals. It also has a role in the protection of cells by removing toxic oxygen free radicals brought about by metabolism. In the present study, effects of melatonin on the mouse oocyte maturation were examined using two different culture conditions provided with 5% or 21% oxygen concentration. MATERIAL AND METHOD: Immature mouse oocytes were obtained from the ovarian follicles of 3~4 weeks old ICR strain mice intraperitoneally injected with 5 I.U. PMSG 44 hour before. Under stereomicroscope, morphologically healthy oocytes with distinct germinal vesicle (GV) were liberated from the graafian follicles and collected using mouth-controlled micropipette. They were then cultured for 17 hour at 37degrees C, 5% CO2 and 21% O2 (95% air) or 5% CO2, 5% O2 and 90% N2. New modified Hank's balanced salt solution (New MHBS) was used as a culture medium throughout the experiments. Effects of melatonin were examined at a concentration of 0.0001 micrometer, 0.01 micrometer or 1.0 micrometer. For the prevention of spontaneous maturation of immature oocytes during culture, dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP) and/or hypoxanthine were included in the medium. RESULTS: Under 21% oxygen condition, oocytes cultured in the presence of 0.01 micrometer melatonin showed a significantly higher maturation rates, in terms of germinal vesicle breakdown (95.0% vs 89.0%) and polar body formation (88.1% vs 75.4%), compared to those cultured with 0.0001 micrometer or 1.0 micrometer melatonin. However, no difference was observed in oocytes cultured under 5% oxygen whether they were treated with melatonin or not. In the presence of 0.01 micrometer melatonin, oocytes either cultured under 21% or 5% oxygen exhibited no difference in the polar body formation (85.6% vs 86.7%). However, in the absence of melatonin, oocytes cultured under 21% oxygen exhibited lower polar body formation (74.7%). When oocytes were cultured in the presence of dbcAMP alone or with varying concentrations of melatonin, those treated with both compounds always showed better maturation, i.e., germinal vesicle breakdown and polar body formation, compared to those cultured with dbcAMP alone. At the same concentration of melatonin, however, oocytes exposed to 21% oxygen showed poor maturation than those to 5% oxygen. Similar results were obtained from the experiments using hypoxanthine instead of dbcAMP. CONCLUSION: Based upon these results, it is suggested that melatonin could enhance the meiotic maturation of mouse oocytes under 21% oxygen concentration, and release oocytes from the meiotic arrest by dbcAMP or hypoxanthine regardless of the concentration of oxygen, probably via the removal of oxygen free radicals.
Key Words: Mouse oocyte; Melatonin; dbcAMP; Hypoxanthine; Oxygen


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