The developmental competence of mouse and human early embryos appears to be directly related to the metabolic capacity of a finite complement of maternally inherited mitochondria that appear to begin to replicate after implantation. Mitochondrial dysfunctions resulting from a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic influences, including genetic abnormalities, hypoxia and oxidative stress, can profoundly influence the level of ATP generation in oocytes and early embryos, which in turn may result in aberrant chromosomal segregation or developmental arrest. Deletions and mutations in oocyte mitochondrial DNA may subtend metabolic deficiencies or replication disorders in some infertile women and in women of increased reproductive age. Here, we describe methods for (i) the compartmentalization of mouse and human oocyte mitochondria into unique cytoplasts enriched for these organelles, and (ii) their transfer by microinjection into intact recipient oocytes. Metabolically active mitochondria in donor and recipient metaphase II stage oocytes were labelled with mitochondria-specific fluorescent probes, and the fate and location of donated mitochondria in recipient oocytes were followed by conventional epifluorescence and scanning laser confocal fluorescence microscopy. The net ATP content of undisturbed and recipient oocytes from the same cohort(s) was measured quantitatively at timed intervals after mitochondrial injection. The results demonstrate the feasibility of isolating and transferring mitochondria between oocytes, an apparent increase in net ATP production in the recipients, and the persistence of activity in the transferred mitochondria. The findings are discussed with respect to mitochondrial function and dysfunction in mammalian oocytes and embryos, and to the potential clinical applications of mitochondrial donation as they relate to the creation of heteroplasmic embryos.
Copyright (C) 1998, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology
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