Effect of Follicle Size onIn VitroMaturation of Pre-Pubertal Porcine Cumulus Oocyte Complexes

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Very small follicles (<3.0 mm diameter) are over-represented on the surface of ovaries of non-cycling pigs, and the oocytes collected from these follicles generally have reduced developmental competence in vitro. This study examined the effect of follicle size on the nuclear maturation (n = 608), the potential of parthenogenetic activation (n = 243) and the cyclic AMP (cAMP) content of pre-pubertal porcine oocytes (n = 480). In addition, the influence of follicle size on steroid hormone synthesis was analysed. Cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) flushed from small (2.5–4.0 mm) or large (4.5–6.0 mm) ovarian follicles were cultured for 0, 28 and 46 h. After 46 h of IVM, a greater proportion of oocytes from 4.5- to 6.0-mm follicles reach metaphase II (MII) compared with those from follicles with 2.5–4.0 mm of diameter (96.1 vs 77.0%, respectively; p < 0.001). Parthenogenetic activation of oocytes from large follicles produced higher developmental rates than oocytes from large follicles (p < 0.05). At 28 h, the IVM medium with oocytes from large follicles contained significantly more 17ß-oestradiol (E2) than the medium with oocytes from small follicles (5.55 vs 3.45 ng/ml, respectively; p < 0.05) and at 46 h, the medium with oocytes from small follicles contained significantly more progesterone (P4) than the medium with oocytes from large follicles (276.7 vs 108.2 ng/ml, respectively, p < 0.05). Porcine oocytes from large follicles have higher nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation capacities, but the differences did not appear to be cAMP-mediated. Our findings also suggest that COCs from small follicles undergo more intensive luteinization than COCs from large follicles. The results show that oocytes from follicles with a diameter greater than 4.0 mm are more suitable for in vitro studies.

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