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Hydrogen peroxide modulates meiotic cell cycle and induces morphological features characteristic of apoptosis in rat oocytes cultured in vitro

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Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is known to induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in various somatic cell types cultured in vitro. We hypothesize that this reactive oxygen species (ROS) could modulate cell cycle and induce morphological features characteristics of apoptosis in oocytes cultured in vitro. To test this hypothesis, immature and mature oocytes were cultured in medium containing various doses of H2O2 with or without caspase-3 inhibitor for various times. The treatment of H2O2 induced germinal vesicle break down (GVBD) in all immature oocytes followed by initiation of shrinkage. Some of immature oocytes (but not mature oocytes) also showed membrane blebbing. On the other hand, H2O2 treatment inhibited first polar body emission in mature oocytes just prior to initiation of shrinkage. The cytoplasmic granulation and fragmentation into apoptotic bodies were observed in mature oocytes during later stages of H2O2 treatment. The shrinkage was induced by H2O2 in a dose- and time-dependent manner in both immature and mature oocytes. Although, H2O2-induced degeneration was observed in both immature and mature oocytes after 2.0 hrs of treatment, immature oocytes were more susceptible to undergo quick shrinkage, membrane blebbing and degeneration. Co-addition of caspase-3 inhibitor prevented shrinkage and degeneration of both immature and mature oocytes except membrane blebbing that was observed at higher doses of H2O2 after 1.0 hr of culture. Treatment of H2O2 induced bax protein expression (3 times), DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 activity (2.5 times) in oocytes undergoing morphological apoptotic changes. These findings clearly suggest that H2O2 induced GVBD in immature oocytes, inhibited first polar body extrusion in mature oocytes prior to initiation of morphological changes characteristic of apoptosis such as shrinkage, membrane blebbing and cytoplasmic fragmentation prior to degeneration.

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Chaube, S.K., Prasad, P.V., Thakur, S.C. et al. Hydrogen peroxide modulates meiotic cell cycle and induces morphological features characteristic of apoptosis in rat oocytes cultured in vitro. Apoptosis 10, 863–874 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10495-005-0367-8

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