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Hum Reprod. 2013 Apr;28(4):1031-44. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des458. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Amino acid turnover by human oocytes is influenced by gamete developmental competence, patient characteristics and gonadotrophin treatment.

Author information

  • 1Division of Reproduction and Early Development, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. k.e.hemmings@leeds.ac.uk

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

Can amino acid profiling differentiate between human oocytes with differing competence to mature to metaphase II (MII) in vitro?

SUMMARY ANSWER:

Oocytes which remained arrested at the germinal vesicle (GV) stage after 24 h of in vitro maturation (IVM) displayed differences in the depletion/appearance of amino acids compared with oocytes which progressed to MII and patient age, infertile diagnosis and ovarian stimulation regime significantly affected oocyte amino acid turnover during IVM.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

Amino acid profiling has been proposed as a technique which can distinguish between human pronucleate zygotes and cleavage stage embryos with the potential to develop to the blastocyst stage and implant to produce a pregnancy and those that arrest. Most recently, the amino acid turnover by individual bovine oocytes has been shown to be predictive of oocyte developmental competence as indicated by the gamete's capacity to undergo fertilization and early cleavage divisions in vitro.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:

The study was conducted between March 2005 and March 2010. A total of 216 oocytes which were at the GV or metaphase I (MI) stages at the time of ICSI were donated by 67 patients.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTINGS, METHODS:

The research was conducted in university research laboratories affiliated to a hospital-based infertility clinic. Oocytes were cultured for 24 h and the depletion/appearance of amino acids was measured during the final 6 h of IVM. Amino acid turnover was analysed in relation to oocyte meiotic progression, patient age, disease aetiology and controlled ovarian stimulation regime.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

The depletion/appearance of key amino acids was linked to the maturation potential of human oocytes in vitro. Oocytes which arrested at the GV stage (n = 9) depleted significantly more valine and isoleucine than those which progressed to MI (n = 32) or MII (n = 107) (P < 0.05). Glutamate, glutamine, arginine and valine depletion or appearance differed in MII versus degenerating oocytes (n = 20) (P < 0.05). Glutamine, arginine, methionine, phenylalanine, total depletion and total turnover all differed in oocytes from patients aged < 35 years versus patients ≥35 years (P < 0.05). MII oocytes obtained following ovarian stimulation with recombinant FSH depleted more isoleucine (P < 0.05) and more alanine and lysine (P < 0.05) appeared than oocytes from hMG-stimulated cycles. MII oocytes from patients with a polycystic ovary (PCO) morphology (n = 33) depleted more serine (P < 0.05) than oocytes from women with normal ovaries (n = 61).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:

Immature oocytes collected at the time of ICSI were used as the model for human oocyte maturation. These oocytes have therefore failed to respond to the ovulatory hCG trigger in vivo (they are meiotically incompetent), and have limited capacity to support embryo development in vitro. The lack of cumulus cells and stress of the conditions in vitro may have influenced turnover of amino acids, and owing to the small sample sizes further studies are required to confirm these findings.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:

The findings provide support for the hypothesis that oocyte metabolism reflects oocyte quality. Longitudinal studies are required to link these functional metabolic indices of human oocyte quality with embryo developmental competence. Oocyte amino acid profiling may be a useful tool to quantify the impact of new assisted reproduction technologies (ART) on oocyte quality.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS:

This project was funded by the UK Biology and Biotechnology Research Council (BB/C007395/1) and the Medical Research Council (G 0800250). K.E.H was in receipt of a British Fertility Society/Merck Serono studentship. H.J.L. is a shareholder in Novocellus Ltd, a company which seeks to devise a non-invasive biochemical test of embryo health.

PMID:
23335609
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3600837
Free PMC Article
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