To investigate the role of factors secreted by cumulus cells during meiotic resumption of porcine oocytes, 1, 5, 10, or 20 cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were cultured in each well of a culture dish containing 300 μl of maturation medium for 20 h. There was a significant positive correlation between the rate of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and the number of COCs cultured in each well for 20 h. The level of progesterone in the medium in which COCs had been cultured for 20 h also rose significantly with an increase in the number of COCs cultured in each well. A significantly small proportion of GVBD in oocytes when one COC was cultured in each well for 20 h was improved by the addition of progesterone. This proportion of GVBD was fully comparable to that of COCs cultured in the absence of additional progesterone with 20 COCs. Thus, progesterone secreted by COCs plays a positive role in GVBD induction in porcine oocytes. Furthermore, we also examined the role of sterol biosynthesis on progesterone production by cumulus cells and in oocyte GVBD. The results showed that the addition of ketoconazole, which suppressed the sterol biosynthetic pathway produced by demethylation of lanosterol, decreased the rate of GVBD, as well as progesterone production in COCs cultured for 20 h. However, the suppression of GVBD by ketoconazole was overtaken by the addition of progesterone. These results demonstrate that a high level of progesterone produced by cumulus cells was responsible for an acceleration of GVBD in porcine oocytes.
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