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Development. 1990 Jun;109(2):501-7.

Hydrogen peroxide levels in mouse oocytes and early cleavage stage embryos developed in vitro or in vivo.

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Department of Anatomy, Cambridge, UK.


We describe a fluorimetric method for measuring the level of H2O2 in individual mouse oocytes and early embryos. Levels of H2O2 are low but detectable in unfertilized oocytes recovered freshly from the female reproductive tract. The levels in early cleaving embryos (1-cell to 8-cell stages) immediately after recovery from the female tract seem to be slightly higher the later the stage examined. However, when embryos are cultured in vitro from the 1-cell or early 2-cell stage, H2O2 levels rise when the embryos reach the mid-2-cell stage and remain elevated until they enter the early 4-cell stage. No equivalent elevation of H2O2 is seen during the transition from 1-cell to 2-cell or from 4-cell to 8-cell stages. Embryos that are able to develop successfully in vitro, as well as those that show a developmental block at the 2-cell stage on culture in vitro, both show this rise in H2O2 levels after in vitro culture. The relationship between the rise in H2O2 and the '2-cell block' to development is discussed.

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