Biosensors (Basel). 2023 Mar 30;13(4):442. doi: 10.3390/bios13040442.
The success rate in vitro fertilization is significantly linked to the quality of the oocytes. The oocyte’s membrane is encapsulated by a shell of gelatinous extracellular matrix, called zona pellucida, which undergoes dynamic changes throughout the reproduction cycle. During the window of highest fertility, the zona pellucida exhibits a softening phase, while it remains rigid during oocyte maturation and again after fertilization. These variations in mechanical properties facilitate or inhibit sperm penetration. Since successful fertilization considerably depends on the state of the zona pellucida, monitoring of the hardening process of the zona pellucida is vital. In this study, we scrutinized two distinct genetic mouse models, namely, fetuin-B wild-type and fetuin-B/ovastacin double deficient with normal and super-soft zona pellucida, respectively. We evaluated the hardening with the help of a microfluidic aspiration-assisted electrical impedance spectroscopy system. An oocyte was trapped by a microhole connected to a microfluidic channel by applying suction pressure. Transient electrical impedance spectra were taken by microelectrodes surrounding the microhole. The time-depending recovery of zona pellucida deflections to equilibrium was used to calculate the Young’s modulus and, for the first time, absolute viscosity values. The values were obtained by fitting the curves with an equivalent mechanical circuit consisting of a network of dashpots and springs. The observer-independent electrical readout in combination with a fitting algorithm for the calculation of the viscoelastic properties demonstrates a step toward a more user-friendly and easy-to-use tool for the characterizing and better understanding of the rheological properties of oocytes.
PMID:37185516 | PMC:PMC10136587 | DOI:10.3390/bios13040442