Summary Heat stress (HS) is especially harmful for bovine ovarian follicle development and oocyte competence. Furthermore, HS causes premature aging in oocytes due to high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), involved in the harmful effects over the oocyte maturation and the steroidogenic activity of follicular cells. In this study, the presumptive protective effects of antioxidant agents on heat-stressed oocytes were evaluated. Heifer oocytes were matured for 22 h under control (38°C) and HS conditions (41.5°C at 18-21 h of maturation). For each oocyte, nuclear stage and cortical granule (CG) distribution were evaluated. Steroidogenic activity of cumulus cells was also recorded. The antioxidant agents used in the study were: retinol (1.43 μg/ml), retinyl (0.28 μg/ml) and oleic acid (0.05 mg/ml). Based on a chi-squared test (P < 0.05), HS affected negatively the metaphase II (MII) progression and produced a premature CG exocytosis. Retinol improved the oocyte MII progression. However, retinyl and oleic acid, at the concentrations used in this study, could not counteract adverse effects of HS. A decrease in progesterone and increase in estradiol availability were observed when retinyl and oleic acid were supplemented to the maturation medium, respectively. In conclusion, retinol proved to be valuable in heat-stressed oocytes protecting nuclear maturation. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012.
- Heat stress
- Oleic acid