Human oocyte cryopreservation and the fate of cortical granules

Yehudith Ghetler, Ehud Skutelsky, Isaac Ben Nun, Liah Ben Dor, Dina Amihai, Ruth Shalgi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the effect of the commonly used oocyte cryopreservation protocol on the cortical granules (CGs) of human immature germinal vesicle (GV) and mature metaphase II (MII) oocytes. Design: Laboratory study. Setting: IVF unit. Intervention(s): Unfertilized, intracytoplasmic sperm injected (ICSI) oocytes, and immature oocytes were cryopreserved using a slow freezing-rapid thawing program with 1,2-propanediol (PROH) as a cryoprotectant. Main Outcome Measure(s): Cortical granule exocytosis (CGE) was assessed by either confocal microscopy or transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Result(s): The survival rates of frozen-thawed oocytes (mature and immature) were significantly lower compared with zygotes. Both mature and immature oocytes exhibited increased fluorescence after cryopreservation, indicating the occurrence of CGE. Mere exposure of oocytes to cryoprotectants induced CGE of 70% the value of control zygotes. The TEM revealed a drastic reduction in the amount of CGs at the cortex of frozen-thawed GV and MII oocytes, as well as appearance of vesicles in the ooplasm. Conclusion(s): The commonly used PROH freezing protocol for human oocytes resulted in extensive CGE. This finding explains why ICSI is needed to achieve fertilization of frozen-thawed human oocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-216
Number of pages7
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Cryopreservation
  • cortical granules
  • exocytosis
  • immature human oocyte
  • mature human oocyte


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