The objective of this study was to determine the effects of a sterol found in ovarian follicular fluid, known as meiosis-activating sterol (FF-MAS), on the maturation of mouse oocytes in vitro. Possible effects of FF-MAS in promoting the metaphase I (MI) to metaphase II (MII) transition (nuclear maturation) and the competence of oocytes to complete preimplantation embryo development to the blastocyst stage (cytoplasmic maturation) were assessed. Cumulus cell-enclosed oocytes that were compromised in their ability to undergo nuclear maturation and subsequent development because of the age or genotype of the female were isolated at the germinal vesicle stage and matured in vitro using media supplemented with 0 to 20 μM FF-MAS. Oocytes that progressed to MII were inseminated in vitro, and the percentages developing to the 2-cell and blastocyst stages were determined. The sterol was omitted from the media used for oocyte insemination or preimplantation development. FF-MAS promoted a significantly higher percentage of oocytes in all groups to progress to MII in vitro. Moreover, FF-MAS treatment of oocytes maturing in vitro dramatically increased the competence of all but one of the groups of oocytes to complete preimplantation development. Therefore, FF-MAS improved mouse oocyte quality by promoting both nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation in vitro.
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