The canine oocyte: uncommon features of in vivo and in vitro maturation

Reprod Fertil Dev. 2011;23(3):391-402. doi: 10.1071/RD10064.


The biology of the canine oocyte is unusual compared with that of other mammalian females. The present paper reviews both in vivo and in vitro specificities of canine oocytes. Final follicular growth in the bitch is characterised by an early appearance of LH binding sites in the granulosa, a high proportion of polyovular follicles and a preovulatory luteinisation, starting at the time of the LH surge. Through follicular fluid, preovulatory oocytes are thus exposed to high levels of progesterone, as high as 1000-fold plasma concentrations. The composition of the follicular fluid is affected by the size of the female. The more specific aspect of oocyte biology in the bitch is ovulation: oocytes are expelled immature, at the Prophase I stage. Ovulatory follicles are 6-8 mm in diameter, releasing oocytes from 110 µm, with dark cytoplasm. Resumption of meiosis occurs from 48 h postovulation, MII stages appearing 48-54 h after ovulation. The mechanisms controlling such a late meiotic resumption are still unknown. Granulosa cells seem to play a central role as in other mammalian species, but not with cAMP as the principal mediator. The importance of a transient reactivation of oocyte transcription a few hours before meiotic resumption is to be explored. These specific features may contribute to the low efficiency of IVM. Only 10-20% oocytes reach the metaphase stage and suffer from a poor cytoplasmic maturation. Moreover, in vitro culture of canine oocytes is associated with a high proportion of degeneration. To date, IVM of the oocytes is the main limiting factor for the development of assisted reproductive techniques in the canine. A better knowledge of the basic physiology of folliculogenesis and the molecular mechanisms controlling oocyte meiosis resumption in this species may allow us to overcome this obstacle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / veterinary
  • Meiosis / physiology
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology
  • Ovarian Follicle / growth & development*
  • Ovulation / physiology