Cytoplasmic changes and developmental competence of bovine oocytes cryopreserved without cumulus cells

Cytoplasmic changes and developmental competence of bovine oocytes
cryopreserved without cumulus cells

S. Modina, M. Beretta, V. Lodde, A. Lauria, A.M. Luciano.

European Journal of Histochemistry, 2004, 40: 337-346.

The cryopreservation of female gametes is still an open problem because of their structural sensitivity to the cooling-and-freezing process and to the exposure to cryoprotectants. The present work was aimed to study the effect of vitrification on immature bovine oocytes freed of cumulus cell investment before freezing. To verify the feasibility and efficiency of denuded oocyte (DO) cryopreservation, the cytoplasmic alterations eventually induced either by cell removal or by the vitrification process were analyzed. In particular, the migration of cortical granules and Ca++ localization were studied. In addition, the localization and distribution of microtubules and microfilaments in immature fresh and vitrified DOs were evaluated. Finally, to establish whether the removal of cumulus cells influenced developmental competence, DOs were thawed after vitrification, matured in vitro and fertilized; then presumptive zygotes were cultured to reach the blastocyst stage. The results indicate that mechanical removal of cumulus cells from immature bovine oocytes does not affect their maturation competence but reduces the blastocyst rate when compared with intact cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs). The findings indicate further that the vitrification process induces changes of cytoplasmic components. However, the composition of the manipulation medium used to remove cumulus cells plays a crucial role in reducing the injuries caused by cryopreservation in both cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments. In fact, the presence of serum exerts a sort of protection, significantly improving both oocyte maturation and blastocyst rates. In conclusion, we demonstrate that denuded immature oocytes can be vitrified after cumulus cells removal and successfully develop up, after thawing, to the blastocyst stage following in vitro maturation and fertilisation.