2018 Volume 64 Issue 6 Pages 503-510
The antral follicle count (AFC) is used as an indicator of cow fertility. We herein investigated the relationship between AFC and the steroidogenesis of granulosa cells and confirmed the developmental competence of oocytes derived from early antral follicles (0.5–1.0 mm) using in vitro growth culture. Slaughterhouse-derived ovaries were divided into high (≥ 25) and low (< 25) AFC groups based on AFC (≥ 2.0 mm). Oocyte-cumulus-granulosa complexes (OCGCs) collected from early antral follicles were cultured for 12 days. The total number, viability, and diameter of granulosa cells and estradiol-17β and progesterone production during the culture were evaluated. Surviving oocytes on day 12 were subjected to in vitro maturation, and their volume and nuclear status were evaluated. Some oocytes were subjected to the evaluation of developmental competence to blastocysts. Although the total number and viability of granulosa cells did not differ between the groups, granulosa cell diameters were smaller in the high AFC group than in the low AFC group. The estradiol-17β and progesterone ratio on day 8 was higher in the high AFC group than in the low AFC group. Oocyte volumes and nuclear maturation rates were greater in the high AFC group than in the low AFC group. The development rate to blastocysts was 9.1% in the high AFC group, while no oocytes developed to blastocysts in the low AFC group. Therefore, estradiol-17β production by granulosa cells appears to be greater in high AFC cattle than in low AFC cattle, thereby promoting the acquisition of oocyte competence.