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Aging (Albany NY). 2017 Jun 26;9(6):1552-1564. doi: 10.18632/aging.101252.

Melatonin prevents postovulatory oocyte aging and promotes subsequent embryonic development in the pig.

Wang T1,2, Gao YY1,2, Chen L1,2, Nie ZW1,2, Cheng W1,2, Liu X1,2,3, Schatten H4, Zhang X1,5, Miao YL1,2,5.

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Institute of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, College of Animal Science and Technology & College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China.
Key Laboratory of Agricultural Animal Genetics, Breeding and Reproduction, Huazhong Agricultural University, Ministry of Education, Wuhan 430070, China.
Reproductive Medicine Centre, Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Yuhuangding Hospital of Yantai, Yantai, Shandong 264000, China.
Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.
The Cooperative Innovation Center for Sustainable Pig Production, Wuhan 430070, China.


Oxidative stress is known as a major contributing factor involved in oocyte aging, which negatively affects oocyte quality and development after fertilization. Melatonin is an effective free radical scavenger and its metabolites AFMK and AMK are powerful detoxifiers that eliminate free radicals. In this study, we used porcine oocytes to test the hypothesis that melatonin could scavenge free radicals produced during oocyte aging, thereby maintaining oocyte quality. We compared reactive oxygen species levels, apoptosis levels, mitochondrial membrane potential ratios, total glutathione contents and expression levels in fresh, aged and melatonin-treated aged porcine oocytes and observed the percentage of blastocyst formation following parthenogenetic activation. We found that melatonin could effectively maintain the morphology of oocytes observed in control oocytes, alleviate oxidative stress, markedly decrease early apoptosis levels, retard the decline of mitochondrial membrane potential and significantly promote subsequent embryonic development in oocytes aged for 24 hr in vitro. These results strongly suggest that melatonin can prevent postovulatory oocyte aging and promote subsequent embryonic development in the pig, which might find practical applications to control oocyte aging in other mammalian species including humans to maintain the quality of human oocytes when performing clinical assisted reproductive technology.


embryo development; melatonin; oocyte aging; pig

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