Melatonin is a multifunctional molecule with numerous biological activities. The fact that melatonin modulates the functions of porcine granulosa cells via the MT2 receptor suggests the possibility of MT2 receptor-mediation for melatonin to promote cumulus expansion of porcine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs). Therefore, we investigated the presence of MT2 in porcine COCs, and the effects of melatonin with or without selective MT2 antagonists (luzindole and 4-P-PDOT) on this process; COCs underwent in vitro maturation culturing with six different conditions (control, melatonin, luzindole, 4-P-PDOT, melatonin + luzindole or melatonin + 4-P-PDOT). Cumulus expansion, oocyte nuclear maturation, and subsequent embryo development after parthenogenetic activation (PA) were evaluated. In experiment 1, MT2 was expressed in both oocytes and cumulus cells. In experiment 2, melatonin significantly increased the proportion of complete cumulus expansion (degree 4), which was inhibited by simultaneous addition of either luzindole or 4-P-PDOT. A similar pattern was observed in the expression of genes related to cumulus expansion, apoptosis, and MT2
. In experiment 3, no significant difference was observed in immature, degenerate, and MII oocyte rates among the groups. In experiment 4, melatonin significantly increased blastocyst formation rates and total blastocyst cell numbers after PA, but these effects were abolished when either luzindole or 4-P-PDOT was added concomitantly. In conclusion, our results indicate that the MT2 receptor mediated the stimulatory effects of melatonin on porcine cumulus expansion and subsequent embryo development.
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