The cortical reaction (CR) in mammalian oocytes is induced following sperm-egg membrane fusion. During intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) the physiological cascade of gamete interaction events is bypassed. The aim of this study was to explore CR occurrence after the ICSI procedure and its correlation with the meiotic status of the oocytes. Unfertilized and abnormally fertilized (one- or three-pronucleate) human oocytes were investigated. The chromosomal status was analysed by Hoechst staining. The CR occurrence and its fluorescent pattern were assessed by confocal scanning laser microscope using the lectin lens culinaris and Texas Red staining. Our results reveal a positive correlation between the activation of oocytes and their CR. No CR was demonstrated in unfertilized-unactivated oocytes with or without sperm in their cytoplasm. In partially activated oocytes showing resumption of meiosis but no formation of pronuclei, a moderate CR was observed. In fully activated oocytes displaying one or three pronuclei, a strong CR was monitored. It was concluded that in ICSI, as in physiological fertilization, oocyte activation is a prerequisite for CR.
- Cortical reaction
- Human oocyte