Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is involved in the regulation of ovarian follicular development and has been shown to potentiate the FSH responsiveness of granulosa cells from preantral follicles. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of IGF-I during preantral follicular culture on steroidogenesis, subsequent oocyte maturation, fertilization, and embryo development in mice. Preantral follicles were isolated mechanically and cultured for 12 days in a simplified culture medium supplemented with 1% fetal calf serum, recombinant human FSH, transferrin, and selenium. In these conditions, follicles were able to grow and produce oocytes that could be matured and fertilized. The first experiment analyzed the effect of different concentrations of IGF-I (0, 10, 50, or 100 ng/ml) added to the culture medium on the follicular survival, steroidogenesis, and the oocyte maturation process. The presence of IGF-I during follicular growth increased the secretion of estradiol but had no effect on the subsequent oocyte survival and maturation rates. In the second experiment, IGF-I (0 or 50 ng/ml) was added to the culture medium during follicular growth, oocyte maturation, or both, and subsequent oocyte fertilization and embryo development rates were evaluated. Oocyte fertilization rates were comparable in the presence or absence of IGF-I. However, the blastocyst development rate was enhanced after follicular culture in the presence of IGF-I. Moreover, the total cell number of the blastocysts observed after differential labeling staining was also higher when follicles were cultured or matured in the presence of IGF-I.
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