Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Preantral follicle culture and oocyte quality

Martyna Heiligentag A and Ursula Eichenlaub-Ritter A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Universitaet Bielefeld, Fac. Biol., Gene Technol./Mikrobiol., 33501 Bielefeld, Germany.

B Corresponding author. Email: EiRi@uni-bielefeld.de

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 30(1) 18-43 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD17411
Published: 4 December 2017

Abstract

The formation of high-quality oocytes depends on complex stage-specific interactions between the germ cell and the somatic compartment involving endocrine, paracrine, and autocrine regulation. Cooperativity in bidirectional signalling and metabolism in response to factors in the microenvironment drive growth, proliferation, cell cycle regulation, spindle formation and the establishment of epigenetic marks in oocytes. This is essential to ensure faithful chromosome segregation and to achieve high oocyte quality, with far-reaching consequences for embryo survival, development and the health of offspring. Oocytes reach developmental capacity throughout early meiotic stages up to full growth and acquisition of nuclear and cytoplasmic maturational competence during folliculogenesis. Improved preantral follicle culture in which ideally intimate contacts between oocyte and somatic cells are retained provides unique opportunities to assess the effects of microenvironment, growth factors, hormones, cryopreservation and environmental exposure on folliculogenesis and oocyte quality. An optimised follicle culture can contribute to the generation of high-quality oocytes for use in fertility preservation in cancer patients, animal breeding and the preservation of endangered species. The past decade has brought about major advances in follicle culture from different species. Recent advances in preantral follicle culture are discussed to assess the effects of environment, adverse exposure, cryopreservation and age on oocyte quality.

Additional keywords: age, chromosomal constitution, cryopreservation, developmental capacity, environmental exposure, fertility preservation, gap junctional communication, growth factors.


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