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Epiregulin, as inducer of nuclear maturation in in vitro grown mouse oocytes from cultured early preantral follicles

Thursday, 19 January, 2012 - 17:00
Campus: Brussels Health Campus
Faculty: Medicine and Pharmacy
auditorium P. Brouwer
Sergio Jean Markos Romero Loyola
phd defence

The improvements in efficacy of cancer
treatments, have led to increasing rates of cancer
survivors; however these gonadotoxic treatments
endanger their fertility. Therefore, adolescent and
adult female cancer patients are nowadays
offered the possibility to preserve their fertility.

The in vitro culture of ovarian tissue or follicles is
an appealing alternative for restoring fertility in
cured cancer patients, however the achievements
in the field are still limited to be considered a
realistic approach for clinical application.

Up to now, mammalian follicles could be
successfully cultured in vitro, allowing small
follicles to reach fully-grown size, however the
oocyte competence to reinitiate and complete
meiosis, and to fertilise and develop intro
embryos is suboptimal. This thesis focused on
evaluating the use of recently discovered
endogenous messengers of the ovulatory signal
(EGF-like factors) as inducers of meiotic
resumption and mucification of cumulus cells in
mouse cultured cumulus oocyte complexes
(COCs) or follicles.

Our results show that maintaining meiotic arrest
in culture provides an adequate culture
environment that enhances COC survival and
oocyte meiotic competence. The EGF-like factor,
Epiregulin proved to be a good inducer for
meiotic completion, on the condition that COCs
isolated from an environment that prevents
meiotic reinitiation. Moreover, it is proposed that
both LH and EGF signalling are needed for
meiotic resumption to occur in cultured follicles,
and that EGF signalling maintains cumulus cells
functionality preventing luteinisation.