Slow freezing and vitrification differentially modify the gene expression profile of human metaphase II oocytes.Hum Reprod. 2012 Jul; 27(7):2160-8.HR
Cryopreservation is now considered as an efficient way to store human oocytes to preserve fertility. However, little is known about the effects of this technology on oocyte gene expression. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of the two cryopreservation procedures, slow freezing and vitrification, on the gene expression profile of human metaphase II (MII) oocytes.
Unfertilized MII oocytes following ICSI failure were cryopreserved either by slow freezing or by the Cryotip method for vitrification. After thawing, total RNA was extracted and analyzed using Affymetrix Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 GeneChip arrays. The gene expression profiles and associated biological pathways in slowly frozen/thawed and vitrified MII oocytes were determined and compared with those of non-cryopreserved MII oocytes used as controls.
Both cryopreservation procedures negatively affected the gene expression profile of human MII oocytes in comparison with controls. However, slowly frozen and vitrified MI oocytes displayed specific gene expression signatures. Slow freezing was associated with down-regulation of genes involved in chromosomal structure maintenance (KIF2C and KIF3A) and cell cycle regulation (CHEK2 and CDKN1B) that may lead to a reduction in the oocyte developmental competence. In vitrified oocytes, many genes of the ubiquitination pathway were down-regulated, including members of the ubiquitin-specific peptidase family and subunits of the 26S proteasome. Such inhibition of the degradation machinery might stabilize the maternal protein content that is necessary for oocyte developmental competence.
The low pregnancy rates commonly observed when using human MII oocytes after slow freezing-thawing may be explained by the alterations of the oocyte gene expression profile.