Int. J. Dev. Biol. 56: 909 - 918 (2012)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.120135gv
© UPV/EHU Press

Human oocyte maturation in vitro

Giovanni Coticchio*, Mariabeatrice Dal-Canto, Maria-Cristina Guglielmo, Mario Mignini-Renzini and Rubens Fadini

Biogenesi, Reproductive Medicine Centre, Istituti Clinici Zucchi, Monza, Italy

ABSTRACT Oocytes from medium-sized antral follicles have already completed their growth phase and, if released from the follicular environment and cultured in vitro, are able to resume the meiotic process and mature. However, in vitro maturation (IVM) does not entirely support all the nuclear and cytoplasmic changes that occur physiologically as an effect of the ovulatory stimulus. Regardless, oocyte IVM is widely applied for the breeding of agriculturally important species. In assisted reproduction technology, IVM has been proposed as an alternative treatment to circumvent the drawbacks of standard ovarian stimulation regimens. Initially introduced to eliminate the risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome afflicting women presenting with polycystic ovaries, subsequently IVM has been suggested to represent an additional approach suitable also for normovulatory patients. So far, in children born from IVM cycles, no doubts of an increased incidence of congenital abnormalities have been raised. Many more births would be achieved if novel IVM systems, currently dominated by empiricism, could be conceived according to more physiological criteria. Recent findings shedding new light on the control of meiotic progression, the support of cumulus cells to the oocyte cellular reorganization occurring during maturation, and the modulation of the stimulus that promotes oocyte maturation downstream the mid-cycle gonadotropin signal are likely to provide crucial hints for the development of more efficient IVM systems.


oocyte, meiosis, in vitro maturation, in vitro fertilization, assisted reproduction technology

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