The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 56: 799 - 808 (2012)

Vol 56, Issue 10-11-12

Special Issue: Female Germ Cells in Development & Tumors

Metabolism throughout follicle and oocyte development in mammals

Published: 6 February 2013

Esther Collado-Fernandez*,1, Helen M. Picton1 and Rémi Dumollard*,2

1Division of Reproduction and Early Development, Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Thera-peutics, University of Leeds, UK and 2Developmental Biology Unit UMR 7009, UMPC Univ. Paris 06 and Centre National de la Recherche (CNRS), Observatoire Océanologique, France


Metabolic studies of mammalian embryos started with the development of in vitro culture systems more than 40 years ago. More recently, metabolic studies have begun to shed light on the requirements of growing oocytes/follicles from the earliest stages of folliculogenesis. While growing oocytes preferentially metabolise pyruvate over glucose, the somatic compartment of ovarian follicles is more glycolytic. The metabolic preferences of the oocyte are reflected in the early zygote, which becomes increasingly dependent on glycolytic energy production as development progresses to the blastocyst stage. Furthermore, the intricate metabolic relationship between each oocyte and its somatic surroundings is critical for oocyte growth and developmental competence. Measurements of amino acid turnover in bovine oocytes indicate that glutamine, arginine and leucine are consistently depleted, while alanine is produced, showing similarities with amino acid turnover in preimplantation embryos. Amino acid profiling is a good predictor of embryo quality and might also turn out to be a predictor of oocyte developmental competence. Finally, recent studies have uncovered lipid metabolism in oocytes and early embryos, suggesting that endogenous fatty acids might be used for energy production. Together, metabolic studies have revealed the multiplicity of energetic substrates used by oocytes and early embryos, and suggest that the versatility of the metabolic pathways available for energy production is key for high developmental potential. Metabolic studies of early embryos are now being applied to follicle culture, and the goal of describing the metabolome of the growing oocyte in its follicle is now very attainable.


oocyte, follicle, metabolism, carbohydrate, amino acid, lipid

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