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Reproduction. 2007 Nov;134(5):645-50.

Association between human oocyte developmental competence and expression levels of some cumulus genes.

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Laboratory of Biomedical Embryology, Centre for Stem Cells Research, University of Milan, via Celoria 10, 20133 Milan, Italy.


At present, oocyte selection is mainly based upon morphological criteria but it is generally acknowledged that its reliability requires further improvement. The aim of this study was to determine whether transcript levels in cumulus cells can provide a useful marker of oocyte developmental competence in vitro. A retrospective study was performed on cumulus cells isolated from 90 oocytes retrieved from 45 patients. Upon fertilization, 35 oocytes originated good-quality embryos and 36 developed into poor-quality embryos, whereas 19 failed to be fertilized. Semi-quantitative measurement of hyaluronic acid synthase 2 (HAS2), gremlin1 (GREM1), and pentraxin 3 (PTX3) mRNAs was performed and data for all genes were obtained from all the samples. Cumulus cells isolated from oocytes that originated high-quality embryos on day 3 of culture had HAS2 and GREM1 transcript levels higher than those detected in cells from oocytes that did not fertilize or developed into poor-quality embryos. No differences were observed in PTX3 levels. Results indicate that the measurement of HAS2 and GREM1 levels in cumulus cells would reliably complement the morphological evaluation providing a useful tool for selecting oocytes with greater chances to be fertilized and develop in vitro.

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