Gefitinib is a first-line anti-cancer drug for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It has been reported that gefitinib can generate several drug-related adverse effects, including nausea, peripheral edema, decreased appetite and rash. However, the reproductive toxicity of gefitinib has not been clearly defined until now. Here we assessed the effects of gefitinib on oocyte quality by examining the critical events and molecular changes of oocyte maturation. Gefitinib at 5 and 10 μM concentration was added to culture medium (M2), which was about equal to five times and ten times the average plasma concentration respectively in human. We found that gefitinib blocked oocyte meiotic progression as indicated by decreased rates of germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and polar body extrusion (PBE). We further showed that gefitinib treatment increased phosphorylation of CDK1 at the site of Try15, inhibited cyclin B1 entry into the nucleus, and disrupted normal spindle assembly, chromosome alignment and mitochondria dynamics, finally leading to the generation of aneuploidy and early apoptosis of oocytes. Our study reported here provides basic evidence for reproductive toxicity of gefitinib administration employed for the treatment of cancer patients.
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