The addition of 9-cis retinoic acid to the oocyte maturation culture medium has a beneficial effect on in vitro fertilized embryos. However, the mechanism of this activity is not known. Therefore, this study was done to elucidate the effect of 9-cis retinoic acid on parthenogenetic embryo production and its signaling pathway and molecular function during in vitro maturation of porcine cumulus cell-oocyte complexes (COCs). Concentrations of 0, 5, 50, and 500 nM 9-cis retinoic acid were added to the in vitro maturation medium, and the embryos were assessed after parthenogenetic activation. Cumulus cells and oocytes from the in vitro matured COCs were separated and subjected to RT-PCR and real-time RT-PCR for detecting retinoic acid receptors and measuring expression of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase1 and 2. The addition of 5 nM 9-cis retinoic acid to the maturation medium was beneficial for parthenogenetic embryo production. The effect of 9-cis retinoic acid was exerted directly through the oocytes via the retinoic acid receptor alpha and retinoid X receptor gamma signaling pathways and indirectly through the cumulus cells by the retinoic acid receptor beta and gamma and retinoid X receptor alpha and beta signaling pathways. The addition of 5 nM 9-cis retinoic acid-stimulated cumulus cells reaches full expansion by suppressing their excessive expression of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2. This study shows that 9-cis retinoic acid can exert its beneficial effect on parthenogenetic embryo production in pigs by multidimensional pathways affecting oocyte maturation.
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Vol. 84 • No. 6