Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Local Livestock and Poultry, Genetical Resource Conservation and Breeding, College of Animal Science and Technology, Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei, 230036, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Melatonin has been reported to improve the survival rate of mouse and goat preantral follicles cultured in vitro. However, the role of melatonin in the development of oocyte-granulosa cell complexes (OGCs) isolated from preantral follicles remains unclear. Cumulus-oocyte complexes were isolated from OGCs cultured in vitro for 18.5 days and were then maturated in vitro for 42 h. The matured oocytes were parthenogenetically activated and were further cultured up to the blastocyst stage. We found that the developmental capacity of oocytes from in vitro cultured OGCs was significantly inferior to that from in vivo grown counterparts. Additionally, a 10-5 M dose of melatonin added to the medium during in vitro culture of OGCs did not improve oocyte meiotic maturation but enhanced blastocyst rate of parthenogenetically activated embryos. Besides, these beneficial effects could be reversed by luzindole treatment, a melatonin membrane receptor antagonist. mRNA sequencing analysis further revealed that melatonin caused differential expression of 76 genes of which 75 were upregulated and 1 was downregulated in OGCs. Twelve of the 76 genes were identified as potential regulators of metabolic pathways by functional analysis. Taken together, these results indicate that melatonin improves developmental competence of porcine oocyte-granulosa cell complexes.