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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1034:132-44.

What criteria for the definition of oocyte quality?

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Tecnobios Procreazione, Via Dante 15, 40125 Bologna, Italy.


Although the spermatozoon provides an essential contribution to the generation of a new individual, the developmental fate of the embryo is principally dictated by the oocyte. Oocyte competencies are acquired throughout oogenesis, via the interaction with somatic cells. The ability to reinitiate the meiotic process and undergo preimplantation development is progressively determined during the antral phase. It is known that these changes involve the nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments, respectively, but the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms are still poorly understood. Analysis of various aspects of oocyte morphology (cytoplasm, zona pellucida, and polar body) via conventional phase-contrast microscopy has generated contrasting evidence on the possibility of establishing reliable criteria for the prediction of developmental potential. The introduction of a newly developed microscopy technique based on the detection of polarized light generated by birefringent cell structures has offered the possibility of visualizing noninvasively the meiotic spindle, whose presence is critical for fertilization and later developmental stages. However, further studies are needed to standardize and interpret the information accessible through such a technique. Although unable to preserve cell viability and therefore provide a method by which to select oocytes with superior developmental competence, invasive techniques can make a fundamental contribution to defining objective criteria of oocyte quality. In particular, immunofluorescence analysis, which is able to identify critical anomalies of the meiotic spindle and cytoskeleton organization that can account for oocyte quality, is an important method for assessing the efficiency of in vitro maturation systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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