Treatment with acetyl-l-carnitine during in vitro maturation of buffalo oocytes improves oocyte quality and subsequent embryonic development.
Oocyte quality is one of the important factors in female fertility, in vitro maturation (IVM), and subsequent embryonic development. In the present study, we assessed whether acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) supplementation during in vitro maturation of buffalo oocytes could improve oocyte quality and subsequent embryonic development. To determine the optimal level of ALC supplementation, we matured cumulus-oocyte complexes in maturation medium supplemented with 0, 2.5, and 5 mM ALC. The oocytes with a polar body were selected for parthenogenetic activation (PA) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). We found that oocytes matured in 2.5 mM ALC had significantly higher PA blastocyst rate (P < 0.05) and blastocyst cell number than those of unsupplemented oocytes (P < 0.05) and a significantly higher IVF blastocyst rate than that of oocytes matured in 5 mM ALC (P < 0.05). In all further experiments, we supplemented the maturation medium with 2.5 mM ALC. We then tested whether ALC supplementation could improve various markers of oocytes and cumulus cells. We compared cell proliferation; concentrations of reactive oxygen species (ROS), intracellular ATP, estradiol, and progesterone; mitochondrial distribution; mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA); and expression levels of four genes encoding oocyte-derived factors (GDF9, BMP15) and steroid hormones (StAR, P450scc) between the supplemented and unsupplemented oocytes and cumulus cells. Cumulus cells matured with ALC supplementation were more prolific than those matured without ALC supplementation (P < 0.05). Oocytes treated with ALC had lower concentrations of intracellular ROS (P < 0.05) and a higher rate of diffuse mitochondrial distributions (P < 0.05) than those of untreated oocytes. Additionally, the mtDNA was higher in the ALC-treated oocytes (P < 0.05) and cumulus cells (P < 0.05) than that in the untreated cells. The ALC-treated maturation medium had a higher postmaturation concentration of estradiol than that of the untreated medium (P < 0.05). Finally, the gene expression levels of P450scc and GDF9 were greater in ALC-treated oocytes and cumulus cells than those in untreated cells (P < 0.05). Therefore, in buffalo, our results suggest that ALC affects mitochondrial function, regulates oocyte-derived paracrine factors, and increases the production of steroid hormones, leading to increased quality of matured oocytes and improved embryonic development in vitro.
Theriogenology. 2018 Sep 15;118:80-89. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2018.05.033. Epub 2018 Jun 1.