, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 353-359
Date: 20 Feb 2013

Oocyte maturation and in vitro hormone production in small antral follicles (SAFs) isolated from rhesus monkeys

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The small antral follicles (SAFs) from the ovarian medulla can be a potential source of oocytes for infertility patients, but little is known about their ability to yield mature oocytes. This study evaluated the response of these SAFs to a stimulatory bolus of human corionic gonadotropin (hCG) in vitro.


Oocyte nuclear maturation and hormone production (estradiol [E2], progesterone [P4]), antimullerian hormone [AMH]) by individual intact SAFs (n = 91; >0.5 mm; n = 5 monkeys) was evaluated after 34 h of culture in the absence (control) or presence of hCG.


Of the total cohort (n = 91), 49 % of SAFs contained degenerating oocytes. The percentage of healthy oocytes able to reinitiate meiosis to the metaphase I (MI) and MII was greater (p < 0.05) after hCG compared to controls. E2, P4 and AMH levels were higher (p < 0.05) in SAF cultures containing germinal vesicle (GV) oocytes compared to those with MII oocytes regardless of hCG exposure. SAF with MI oocytes produced more E2, but less (p < 0.05) P4 and AMH compared to SAFs containing GV oocytes (p < 0.05). Follicles ≥1 mm produced more (p < 0.05) E2, whereas follicle diameter did not correlate with P4 or AMH levels. Only P4 increased (p < 0.05) in response to hCG, regardless of follicle size or oocyte maturity. SAFs containing degenerating oocytes produced similar levels of E2, P4 and AMH compared to SAFs containing healthy oocytes.


These data indicate, for the first time, that oocytes within primate SAFs can reinitiate meiosis in vitro in the absence of hCG, but nuclear maturation is enhanced in SAFs cultured with hCG. Oocyte nuclear maturation within SAFs in is associated with decreased E2, P4 and AMH levels. Furthermore, hormone content within the culture media does not necessarily reflect oocyte quality.


Oocyte nuclear maturation within primate SAFs is enhanced in the presence of hCG, although hormone content in the culture media does not necessarily reflect oocyte quality.