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Zygote. 2004 May;12(2):95-103.

Ageing-induced changes in the cortical granules of mouse eggs.

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Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.


The cortical cytoplasm and cortical granules (CGs) of mouse oocytes were analysed by electron microscopy. Oocytes were collected soon and 20h after ovulation from adult young females (3-4 months old). In addition, gametes collected soon after ovulation from 12- to 14-month-old females were used. Ultrastructural analyses were undertaken using the conventional procedures and the alcoholic PTA method. PTA selectively stains the CGs indicating the presence of lysine-rich proteins in these granules. Oocytes from young females showed CGs as dense granules 300-500 nm in diameter linearly arranged under the oolemma. In oocytes recovered 20h after ovulation 24.31% of CGs appeared vacuolated and 38.40% internalized in the cytoplasm. In gametes collected from old females several changes were observed in the cortical cytoplasm: (a) CGs appeared concentrated in some areas while others regions were devoid of granules; (b) groups of CGs appeared internalized in the egg cytoplasm; (c) the CG contents had swollen and changed, showing dense and clear areas; (d) numerous dense structures and vesicles (lysosome-like vesicles) were present; (e) cytoplasmic fragmentation was frequently seen. Fragments contained CGs, dense structures and vacuoles. These changes are closely related to the low fertilization rates shown by these oocytes when they were used for in vitro fertilization procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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