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Reproduction. 2013 Aug 1;146(2):193-207. doi: 10.1530/REP-12-0487. Print 2013 Aug.

Heat stress effects on the cumulus cells surrounding the bovine oocyte during maturation: altered matrix metallopeptidase 9 and progesterone production.

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Department of Animal Science, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, UT AgResearch, 251 Brehm Animal Science Building, 2506 River Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-4574, USA.


When the effects of heat stress are detrimental during maturation, cumulus cells are intimately associated with the oocyte. To determine the extent to which heat stress affects these cells, in this study, transcriptome profiles of the cumulus that surrounded control and heat-stressed oocytes (41 °C during the first 12 h only and then shifted back to 38.5 °C) during in vitro maturation (IVM) were compared using Affymetrix bovine microarrays. The comparison of cumulus-derived profiles revealed a number of transcripts whose levels were increased (n=11) or decreased (n=13) ≥ twofold after heat stress exposure (P<0.01), sufficient to reduce the development of blastocysts by 46.4%. In a separate study, quantitative PCR (qPCR) was used to confirm heat-induced differences in the relative abundances of the transcripts of five different genes (caveolin 1, matrix metallopeptidase 9, FSH receptor, Indian hedgehog homolog, and inducible nitric oxide synthase). Heat stress exposure resulted in >1.7-fold decrease in the protein levels of latent matrix metallopeptidase 9 (proMMP9). Heat-induced reductions in transcript levels were noted at 6 h IVM with reductions in proMMP9 protein levels at 18 h IVM (P=0.0002). Independent of temperature, proMMP9 levels at 24 h IVM were positively correlated with the development rate of blastocysts (R²=0.36; P=0.002). The production of progesterone increased during maturation; heat-induced increases were evident by 12 h IVM (P=0.002). Both MMP9 and progesterone are associated with the developmental competence of the oocyte; thus, it seems plausible for some of the negative consequences of heat stress on the cumulus-oocyte complex to be mediated through heat-induced perturbations occurring in the surrounding cumulus.

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