Immunohistochemical localization and mRNA expression of activin, inhibin, follistatin, and activin receptor in bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes during in vitro maturation

F Izadyar, G Dijkstra, H T Van Tol, A J Van den Eijnden-van Raaij, R Van den Hurk, B Colenbrander, M M Bevers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The aim of this study was to investigate whether bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) synthesize activin A, inhibin, and follistatin and whether they contain activin receptor during in vitro maturation. Therefore, COCs obtained from small and medium-sized follicles were cultured in M-199 supplemented with 10% fetal calf serum (FCS) and gonadotropins for 24 hr. At 0, 6, 12, and 24 hr after the onset of culture, COCs were removed for immunohistochemical staining to detect the expression of activin A, inhibin, follistatin, and activin receptor type II proteins. At 0 and 24 hr, COCs were removed and prepared for reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to assess the presence of mRNA of these proteins. It appeared that cumulus cells and oocytes express activin, follistatin, and activin receptor proteins as well as their mRNA. While expression of inhibin mRNA was found exclusively in cumulus cells, the inhibin protein was present in cumulus cells and oocytes. Immunohistochemical study both in cumulus cells and in oocytes often showed a moderate and strong staining intensity for activin and follistatin, respectively. Activin staining underwent little or no change during culture except at 24 hr of maturation, where about 60% of the oocytes showed no staining. Follistatin immunoreactivity remained strong in the majority of COCs. At the onset of culture, a spotlike inhibin staining was observed in the oocyte, which increased after 12 hr and was absent at the end of culture. Activin receptor immunoreactivity in cumulus cell membranes and oolemma increased during oocyte maturation to maximum values at the end of culture in most of the COCs. It is concluded that the consistent presence of activin and the increase in activin receptor in cumulus cells and oocytes during in vitro maturation indicate a paracrine and/or autocrine action for activin on bovine oocyte maturation. This action may be modulated by inhibin and/or follistatin.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)186-95
    Number of pages10
    JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 1998


    • Activin Receptors
    • Activins
    • Animals
    • Cattle
    • Cells, Cultured
    • Female
    • Follistatin
    • Glycoproteins
    • Immunohistochemistry
    • Inhibins
    • Oocytes
    • Ovarian Follicle
    • Polymerase Chain Reaction
    • RNA, Messenger
    • Receptors, Growth Factor


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