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Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) enhances cumulus cell expansion in bovine oocytes

Oscar A Peralta1, Danai Bucher2, Ana Fernandez2, Marco Berland3, Pablo Strobel2, Alfredo Ramirez2, Marcelo H Ratto2* and Ilona Concha2*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Fomento de la Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

2 Institutos de Ciencia Animal y Bioquímica y Microbiología, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile

3 Facultad de Recursos Naturales, Universidad Católica de Temuco, Temuco, Chile

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2013, 11:55  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-11-55

Published: 24 June 2013



The objectives of the study were to characterize the expression of the α- and β-subunits of granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) receptor in bovine cumulus cells and oocytes and to determine the effect of exogenous GM-CSF on cumulus cells expansion, oocyte maturation, IGF-2 transcript expression and subsequent competence for embryonic development.


Cumulus-oocyte complexes (COC) were obtained by aspirating follicles 3- to 8-mm in diameter with an 18 G needle connected to a vacuum pump at −50 mmHg. Samples of cumulus cells and oocytes were used to detect GM- CSF receptor by immunofluorescence. A dose–response experiment was performed to estimate the effect of GM-CSF on cumulus cell expansion and nuclear/cytoplasmic maturation. Also, the effect of GM-CSF on IGF-2 expression was evaluated in oocytes and cumulus cells after in vitro maturation by Q-PCR. Finally, a batch of COC was randomly assigned to in vitro maturation media consisting of: 1) synthetic oviductal fluid (SOF, n = 212); 2) synthetic oviductal fluid supplemented with 100 ng/ml of GM-CSF (SOF + GM-CSF, n = 224) or 3) tissue culture medium (TCM 199, n = 216) and then subsequently in vitro fertilized and cultured for 9 days.


Immunoreactivity for both α and β GM-CSF receptors was localized in the cytoplasm of both cumulus cells and oocytes. Oocytes in vitro matured either with 10 or 100 ng/ml of GM-CSF presented a higher (P < 0.05) cumulus cells expansion than that of the control group (0 ng/ml of GM-CSF). GM-CSF did not affect the proportion of oocytes in metaphase II, cortical granules dispersion and IGF-2 expression. COC exposed to 100 ng/ml of GM-CSF during maturation did not display significant differences in terms of embryo cleavage rate (50.4% vs. 57.5%), blastocyst development at day 7 (31.9% vs. 28.7%) and at day 9 (17.4% vs. 17.9%) compared to untreated control (SOF alone, P = 0.2).


GM-CSF enhanced cumulus cell expansion of in vitro matured bovine COC. However, GM-CSF did not increase oocyte nuclear or cytoplasmic maturation rates, IGF-2 expression or subsequent embryonic development.

GM-CSF; Oocyte maturation; Embryo development; GM-CSF receptors