The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of copper (Cu) during in vitro maturation (IVM) on apoptosis and DNA integrity of cumulus cells (CC); and oocyte viability. Also, the role of CC in the transport of Cu during IVM was evaluated on oocyte developmental capacity. Damage of DNA was higher in CC matured without Cu (0 µg/dl Cu, P < 0.01) with respect to cells treated with Cu for cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) exposed to 0, 20, 40, or 60 µg/dl Cu). The percentage of apoptotic cells was higher in CC matured without Cu than in CC matured with Cu. Cumulus expansion and viability of CC did not show differences in COC treated with 0, 20, 40, or 60 µg/dl Cu during IVM. After in vitro fertilization (IVF), cleavage rates were higher in COC and DO + CC (denuded oocytes + CC) with or without Cu than in DO. Independently of CC presence (COC, DO + CC or DO) the blastocyst rates were higher when 60 µg/dl Cu was added to IVM medium compared to medium alone. These results indicate that Cu supplementation to IVM medium: (i) decreased DNA damage and apoptosis in CC; (ii) did not modify oocyte viability and cumulus expansion; and (iii) improved subsequent embryo development up to blastocyst stage regardless of CC presence during IVM.
Keywords: Apoptosis; DNA damage; Early development; Minerals.