The objective of these experiments was to evaluate the importance of fatty acid beta-oxidation (FAO) in the cumulus oocyte complex (COC) during in vitro maturation (IVM) to oocyte nuclear maturation and gene expression in both the oocyte and cumulus cells in three species with differing amounts of oocyte intracellular lipids (mouse, low; bovine, moderate; porcine, high). We inhibited FAO using etomoxir at 0, 10, 25, 100, or 250 μM. Completion of oocyte nuclear maturation was inhibited after COC exposure to 250 μM etomoxir in mouse oocytes, 100 μM etomoxir in bovine oocytes, and as little as 10 μM etomoxir in porcine oocytes (P < 0.05). When FAO was inhibited in mouse and porcine COCs resulting in inhibition of meiosis, the abundance of FAO, glycolytic, and oxidative stress gene transcripts were decreased in oocytes and cumulus cells (P < 0.05), although to a much greater extent in the pig. In bovine oocytes and cumulus cells, FAO gene transcripts were increased and glycolytic gene expression altered following meiotic inhibition due to etomoxir. Etomoxir, at doses that did not inhibit nuclear maturation in bovine and murine COCs, increased glucose consumption (P < 0.05), suggesting glucose metabolism is increased to meet the metabolic demands of the COCs when fatty acid metabolism is compromised. Our data demonstrates that FAO is essential to oocyte nuclear maturation in all three species. Sensitivity of nuclear maturation to FAO inhibition reflects the amount of lipid present in the ooplasm and may suggest a relative reliance on this metabolic pathway.
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Vol. 88 • No. 5