The evaluation of culture medium for bovine oocytes has progressed toward more defined conditions during the last few years. The main objective of this study was to evaluate different sources of albumin as a protein supplement during in vitro maturation (IVM) of bovine oocytes in synthetic oviduct fluid medium (SOF). The replacement of protein with polyvinyl pyrrolidone (PVP) or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) was also evaluated. The effect of recombinant human FSH on cumulus expansion and nuclear maturation in SOF containing BSA (BSA-V) or PVP-40 was also studied. Addition of BSA-V during IVM retarded nuclear maturation when compared with addition of PVP-40 or use of SOF alone. The inclusion of different concentrations of BSA-V, fetal calf serum (FCS), or PVA during IVM had no positive effect on the developmental capacity of the oocytes compared with the use of SOF alone with no supplement but significantly decreased the percentage of embryos reaching the morula and blastocyst stages. However, when BSA-V was replaced with purified BSA, BSA that was essentially free of fatty acids, or chicken egg albumin, embryonic development rates were restored. The presence of PVP-40 but not PVP-360 during IVM significantly increased morula and blastocyst production. These results indicate that although SOF alone can support bovine oocyte maturation, a high proportion of morulae and blastocysts can be produced from IVM oocytes cultured in medium containing PVP-40. These studies are the first to show that the effect of FSH on nuclear maturation and cumulus expansion is dependent on substrates present in IVM medium.
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