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A stereological study on organelle distribution in human oocytes at prophase I

  • Ana Sílvia Pires-Luís (a1) (a2) (a3), Eduardo Rocha (a3), Carla Bartosch (a2) (a4), Elsa Oliveira (a1), Joaquina Silva (a5), Alberto Barros (a5) (a6), Rosália Sá (a1) and Mário Sousa (a7)...


The ultrastructural analysis of human oocytes at different maturation stages has only been descriptive. The aim of this study was to use a stereological approach to quantify the distribution of organelles in oocytes at prophase I (GV). Seven immature GV oocytes were processed for transmission electron microscopy and a classical manual stereological technique based on point-counting with an adequate stereological grid was used. The Kruskal–Wallis test and Mann–Whitney U-test with Bonferroni correction were used to compare the means of the relative volumes occupied by organelles in oocyte regions: cortex (C), subcortex (SC) and inner cytoplasm (IC). Here we first describe in GV oocytes very large vesicles of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER), vesicles containing zona pellucida-like materials and coated vesicles. The most abundant organelles were the very large vesicles of the SER (6.9%), mitochondria (6.3%) and other SER vesicles (6.1%). Significant differences in organelle distribution were observed between ooplasm regions: cortical vesicles (C: 1.3% versus SC: 0.1%, IC: 0.1%, P = 0.001) and medium-sized vesicles containing zona pellucida-like materials (C: 0.2% versus SC: 0.02%, IC: 0%, P = 0.004) were mostly observed at the oocyte cortex, whereas mitochondria (C: 3.6% versus SC: 6.0%, IC: 7.2%, P = 0.005) were preferentially located in the subcortex and inner cytoplasm, and SER very large vesicles (IC: 10.1% versus C: 0.9%, SC: 1.67%, P = 0.001) in the oocyte inner cytoplasm. Further quantitative studies are needed in immature metaphase-I and mature metaphase-II oocytes, as well as analysis of correlations between ultrastructural and molecular data, to better understand human oocyte in vitro maturation.


Corresponding author

All correspondence to: Mário Sousa. Department of Microscopy, Laboratory of Cell Biology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), University of Porto (UP), Rua Jorge Viterbo Ferreira, 228, 4050–313 Porto, Portugal. Tel: +351 220 428 000 (General); +351 220 428 246 (Office). Fax: +351 220 428 090. E-mail:


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A stereological study on organelle distribution in human oocytes at prophase I

  • Ana Sílvia Pires-Luís (a1) (a2) (a3), Eduardo Rocha (a3), Carla Bartosch (a2) (a4), Elsa Oliveira (a1), Joaquina Silva (a5), Alberto Barros (a5) (a6), Rosália Sá (a1) and Mário Sousa (a7)...


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