Polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) are produced using bio-compatible and bio-degradable materials such as PLGA (Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)). This technology provides a valuable tool to deliver molecules to the subcellular level with a relatively low risk of cytotoxicity. However their use in the field of reproductive biotechnology is not yet scientifically substantiated. The aim of the present study was to test if PLGA NPs can be taken-up by cumulus-enclosed oocytes as a first step towards potential oocyte-targeted applications to enhance oocyte quality and fertility. We conducted a series of experiments using bovine in vitro oocyte maturation as a model to study FITC-conjugated PLGA internalization (using laser-scanning confocal microscopy) and the effect of some important physical (particle size) and chemical (conjugation with PEG) modifications. We show evidence that PLGA NPs can be taken-up by cumulus cells and to a less extent by the enclosed oocytes regardless of the NP size. The NP transfer to the oocyte appear to be transcellular (via cumulus cells and transzonal projections) and paracellular (via zona pellucida). The PLGA NPs were detected in the vicinity of the oocyte as quick as 2h post-exposure in a protein-free medium and did not compromise cumulus cell viability nor subsequent early embryo development or embryo quality. These results suggest that PLGA NPs may have promising applications as carriers for drug or molecule delivery targeting cumulus cells and oocytes.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.