Inhibiting oocyte postovulatory aging is important both for healthy reproduction and for assisted reproduction techniques. Some studies suggest that glucose promotes oocyte meiotic resumption through glycolysis, but others indicate that it does so by means of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). Furthermore, although pyruvate was found to prevent oocyte aging, the mechanism is unclear. The present study addressed these issues by using the postovulatory aging oocyte model. The results showed that whereas the oocyte itself could utilize pyruvate or lactate to prevent aging, it could not use glucose unless in the presence of cumulus cells. Glucose metabolism in cumulus cells prevented oocyte aging by producing pyruvate and NADPH through glycolysis and PPP. Whereas PPP was still functioning after inhibition of glycolysis, the glycolysis was completely inactivated after inhibition of PPP. Addition of fructose-6-phosphate, an intermediate product from PPP, alleviated oocyte aging significantly when the PPP was totally inhibited. Lactate prevented oocyte aging through its lactate dehydrogenase-catalyzed oxidation to pyruvate, but pyruvate inhibited oocyte aging by its intramitochondrial metabolism. However, both lactate and pyruvate required mitochondrial electron transport to prevent oocyte aging. The inhibition of oocyte aging by both PPP and pyruvate involved regulation of the intracellular redox status. Together, the results suggest that glucose metabolism in cumulus cells prevented oocyte postovulatory aging by maintaining both energy supply and the intracellular redox potential and that) glycolysis in cumulus cells might be defective, with pyruvate production depending upon the PPP for intermediate products.
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Vol. 84 • No. 6