Oocyte is arrested at metaphase of the second meiosis until fertilization switching on [Ca2+]i oscillations. Oocyte activation inefficiency is the most challenging problem for failed fertilization and embryonic development. Mitochondrial function and intracellular [Ca2+]i oscillations are two critical factors for the oocyte's developmental potential. We aimed to understand the possible correlation between mitochondrial function and [Ca2+]i oscillations in oocytes. To this end, mitochondrial uncoupler CCCP which damages mitochondrial function and two small molecule mitochondrial agonists, L-carnitine (LC) and BGP-15, were used to examine the regulation of [Ca2+]i by mitochondrial functions. With increasing CCCP concentrations, [Ca2+]i oscillations were gradually diminished and high concentrations of CCCP led to oocyte death. LC enhanced mitochondrial membrane potential and [Ca2+]i oscillations and even improved the damage induced by CCCP, however, BGP-15 had no beneficial effect on oocyte activation. We have found that mitochondrial function plays a vital role in the generation of [Ca2+]i oscillations in oocytes, and thus mitochondria may interact with the ER to generate [Ca2+]i oscillations during oocyte activation. Improvement of mitochondrial functions with small molecules can be expected to improve oocyte activation and embryonic development in infertile patients without invasive micromanipulation.
Keywords: Oocyte activation; [Ca2+]i oscillations; mitochondria; mitochondrial membrane potential.