Bisphenol A alters oocyte maturation by prematurely closing gap junctions in the cumulus cell-oocyte complex

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Abstract

In ovarian follicles, cumulus cells communicate with the oocyte through gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC), to nurture the oocyte and control its meiosis arrest and division. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a monomer found in polycarbonate-made containers that can induce functional alterations, including impaired oocyte meiotic division and reduced molecule transfer in GJIC. However, how BPA alters oocyte meiotic division is unclear. We investigated whether BPA effects on oocyte meiotic division were correlated with reduced transfer in GJIC. Cumulus cell-oocyte complexes (COCs) isolated from mouse preovulatory follicles were cultured with 0, 0.22, 2.2, 22, 220, and 2200nM BPA for 2h. An additional 16-h incubation with epidermal growth factor (EGF) was performed to promote the occurrence of meiotic resumption and progression to metaphase II. Without EGF stimulus, BPA treatment increased the percentage of oocytes undergoing meiotic resumption, decreased GJIC in the COCs, and did not modify GJIC gene (Cx43 and Cx37) and protein (CX43) expression. Following EGF stimulus, BPA increased the percentage of oocytes that remained at the anaphase and telophase stages, and decreased the percentage of oocytes reaching the metaphase II stage. Concomitantly, BPA reduced the expansion of cumulus cells. Carbenoxolone (a GJIC inhibitor) and 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (a cumulus cell-expansion inhibitor) exerted effects on meiotic division similar to those exerted by BPA. These data suggest that BPA accelerates meiotic progression, leading to impaired prophase I-to-metaphase II transition, and that this adverse effect is correlated with reduced bidirectional communication in the COC.

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