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Theriogenology. 2000 Feb;53(3):761-71.

The importance of having high glutathione (GSH) level after bovine in vitro maturation on embryo development effect of beta-mercaptoethanol, cysteine and cystine.

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HALITUS, Instituto Médico, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Supplementation of IVM medium with cysteamine, beta-mercaptoethanol, cysteine and cystine induced bovine oocyte glutathione (GSH) synthesis, but only the effect of cysteamine on the developmental competence of these oocytes was tested. During IVM of sheep oocytes, cysteamine but not beta-mercaptoethanol increased embryo development. However, it is not known how long the high intracellular oocyte GSH levels obtained after IVM with thiol compounds, can be maintained. Thus, the present study was carried out to evaluate the effects of supplementing maturation medium with 100 microM beta-mercaptoethanol, 0.6 mM cysteine and 0.6 mM cystine on 1) intracellular GSH level after IVM, 2) after IVF, 3) in 6 to 8-cell embryos and 4) on embryo development. In oocytes after IVM and in presumptive zygotes after IVF, intracellular GSH levels were significantly higher in the treated groups (P < 0.05). While, GSH content in 6 to 8-cell embryos was similar among treatment groups (P > 0.05). Differences in cleavage rates and the percentage of embryos that developed to morula and blastocyst stages were significantly higher (P < 0.05) for treated oocytes than for those matured in the control medium. We conclude from the results that the high intracellular GSH levels after induction of GSH synthesis in bovine IVM by thiol compounds remain during IVF and are still present at the beginning of IVC, improving developmental rates. Moreover, the results indicate that this metabolic pathway is an important component of the cytoplasmic maturation process that affects the subsequent steps of in vitro embryo production.

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