The thiol reagent, thimerosal induces intracellular calcium oscillations in mature human oocytes

M. Herbert, A. P. Murdoch, J. I. Gillespie

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The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of thimerosal on intracellular calcium in human oocytes related to the stage of nuclear maturity. A total of 20 oocytes from superovulated women undergoing gamete intra-Fallopian transfer (GIFT) were studied. The calcium-sensitive fluorescent dye Fura-2 was used to monitor intracellular calcium. Regular oscillations in the concentration of cytosolic calcium were observed in 13 out of 20 oocytes following exposure to thimerosal; five oocytes did not respond to thimerosal treatment, and spontaneous oscillations of cytosolic free calcium were recorded in two oocytes. Thimerosal induced oscillations of intracellular calcium in a significantly higher proportion of metaphase II oocytes (10/11) compared with metaphase I oocytes (3/8; P < 0.2). These findings demonstrate that thimerosal is a potentially useful agent for the study of the calcium signalling processes in human eggs and suggest that the underlying cellular mechanisms develop at a relatively late stage of oocyte maturation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2183-2186
Number of pages4
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • calcium signalling
  • Human oocytes
  • Oscillations
  • Thimerosal

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