Exposure to lipid-rich follicular fluid is associated with endoplasmic reticulum stress and impaired oocyte maturation in cumulus-oocyte complexes

Xing Yang, Linda L. Wu, Lindsay R. Chura, Xiaoyan Liang, Michelle Lane, Robert J. Norman, Rebecca L. Robker

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141 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine whether the high lipid content of human follicular fluid influences oocyte maturation. Design: Mouse oocytes as substitutes for human oocytes were exposed to follicular fluids of differing lipid content with outcome monitoring. Setting: Private infertility clinic and university laboratory. Patient(s): Seventy-four women seeking assisted reproduction, and gonadotropin-stimulated mice. Intervention(s): Assay of follicular fluids for triglyceride and free fatty acids, and stimulation of mouse cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) to maturity in vitro in the presence of lipid-rich or lipid-poor follicular fluid. Main Outcome Measure(s): Oocyte lipid content, expression of endoplasmic reticulum stress marker genes, and oocyte maturation assessed in mouse COCs exposed to lipid-rich follicular fluid were compared with complexes exposed to lipid-poor follicular fluid and complexes matured in vivo. Result(s): Follicular fluids were obtained from women of known body mass index undergoing oocyte aspiration at a private infertility clinic, and the follicular fluids were assayed for triglyceride and free fatty acids; those with the highest and lowest levels of these lipids were selected. The mouse COCs exposed to lipid-rich follicular fluid during their maturation had increased oocyte lipid content, induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress markers, and impaired oocyte nuclear maturation. Conclusion(s): Increased body mass index is associated with elevated triglycerides and free fatty acids in ovarian follicular fluid. Maturation within this lipid-rich environment is detrimental to oocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1438-1443
Number of pages6
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • ATF4
  • ATF6
  • endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • free fatty acids
  • GRP78
  • lipotoxicity
  • obesity
  • triglyceride

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