We examined the relationship between integrity of cumulus cells and nuclear maturation rate after in vitro culture to determine a non-invasive prediction of the maturational competence of feline oocytes. Feline cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were collected from either small (400–800 μm) or large (≥800 μm) follicles. Immediately after collection, cumulus cells were evaluated morphologically (thickness of cumulus cell layers) and stained with propidium iodide (PI), which penetrates only non-viable cells. Cumulus cells without PI staining were judged as having good membrane integrity. After evaluation, COCs were cultured for 30 h and their nuclear maturation rate was determined. The nuclear maturation rate of oocytes derived from large follicles (89.8%) was higher (p < 0.05) than that from small follicles (60.8%). There was no difference in the maturation rate of oocytes from follicles with the same size regardless of cumulus morphology. In contrast, oocytes that had cumulus cells with good membrane integrity showed a higher maturation rate (93.8%) than oocytes with poor cumulus integrity (76.9%) in large follicles (p < 0.05). We conclude that evaluation of membrane integrity of cumulus cells by propidium iodide staining can be used to predict the maturational competence of oocytes.
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