Our objectives were to study how cysteamine, cystine, and cumulus cells (CCs), as well as oocytes interact to increase oocyte intracellular glutathione (GSH) and thereby to establish an efficient in vitro maturation system for cumulus-denuded oocytes (DOs). Using M16 that contained no thiol as maturation medium, we showed that when supplemented alone, neither cystine nor cysteamine promoted GSH synthesis of mouse DOs, but they did when used together. Although goat CCs required either cysteamine or cystine to promote GSH synthesis, mouse CCs required both. In the presence of cystine, goat CCs produced cysteine but mouse CCs did not. Cysteamine reduced cystine to cysteine in cell-free M16. When TCM-199 that contained 83 μM cystine was used as maturation medium, supplementation with cysteamine alone had no effect, but supplementation with 100 μM cysteamine and 200 μM cystine increased blastulation of DOs matured with CC coculture to a level as high as achieved in cumulus-surrounded oocytes (COCs). Similar numbers of young were produced after two-cell embryos from mouse COCs or CC-cocultured DOs matured with optimal thiol supplementation were transferred to pseudopregnant recipients. It is concluded that 1) mouse CCs can use neither cysteamine nor cystine to promote GSH synthesis, but goat CCs can use either one; 2) goat CCs promote mouse oocyte GSH synthesis by reducing cystine to cysteine, but how they use cysteamine requires further investigation; and 3) mouse DOs can use neither cystine nor cysteamine for GSH synthesis, but they restore developmental capacity completely when matured in the presence of optimum supplementation of cysteamine, cystine, and CCs.
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Vol. 82 • No. 4