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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Nov 29;197(1-2):173-8.

Role of growth hormone and growth hormone receptor in oocyte maturation.

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Department of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80151, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Near the completion of growth, mammalian oocytes acquire the competence to resume and complete meiosis. In vivo the preovulatory LH surge triggers the resumption of meiosis in the oocyte contained in preovulatory follicles. When immature oocytes and the surrounding cumulus cells are released from their follicular environment, resumption of meiosis is induced spontaneously. Culture of bovine cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) obtained from antral follicles results in blastocyst formation following in vitro maturation, in vitro fertilisation and in vitro embryo culture. Addition of growth hormone (GH) to the maturation medium accelerates nuclear maturation of cumulus enclosed bovine oocytes, induces cumulus expansion and promotes early embryonic development following in vitro fertilisation. The effect of GH is exerted through the cumulus cells and not mediated by IGF-I. Cumulus cells and the oocyte express mRNA for GH receptor. Using specific inhibitors it has been shown that the effect of GH on oocyte maturation and cumulus expansion is mediated by the cyclic AMP signal transduction pathway. Within COCs both cumulus cells and oocyte show GH immunoreactivity while expression of GH mRNA is only found in the oocyte. These observations point to a paracrine and/or autocrine action of GH in oocyte maturation.

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