This study addresses the role of cAMP hydrolytic isoenzyme phosphodiesterase type 3 (PDE 3) modulation on human oocyte maturation in vitro. Presence of phosphodiesterase type 3 A (PDE 3A) mRNA was confirmed in human germinal vesicle-stage (GV) oocytes. Making use of a selective PDE 3 inhibitor, Org 9935 (10 μM), oocytes retrieved from immature follicles were arrested in prophase I with a high efficiency for up to 72 h. Cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) were retrieved in the follicular phase of the cycle before or after exposure to endogenous LH or hCG administration in vivo and randomly distributed into maturation medium with or without the PDE 3 inhibitor. Previous exposure of small follicles to LH activity in vivo had no influence on the arresting capacity of the PDE 3 inhibitor. Reversal from pharmacological arrest leads to a progression through meiosis in a normal time frame with formation of a well-aligned metaphase plate. Ultrastructure analysis of COC derived from follicles between 8 and 12 mm showed that the induced extension of prophase I arrest in vitro resulted in cytoplasm changes but not in apparent nuclear changes during culture.
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