Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs) are group of enzymes responsible for the hydrolysis of cyclic adenosine 3′, 5′ monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine 3′, 5′ monophosphate (cGMP) levels in wide variety of cell types. These PDEs are detected in encircling granulosa cells or in oocyte with in follicular microenvironment and responsible for the decrease of cAMP and cGMP levels in mammalian oocytes. A transient decrease of cAMP level initiates downstream pathways to cause spontaneous meiotic resumption from diplotene arrest and induces oocyte maturation. The nonspecific PDE inhibitors (caffeine, pentoxifylline, theophylline, IBMX etc.) as well as specific PDE inhibitors (cilostamide, milrinone, org 9935, cilostazol etc.) have been used to elevate cAMP level and inhibit meiotic resumption from diplotene arrest and oocyte maturation, ovulation, fertilization and pregnancy rates both in vivo as well as under in vitro culture conditions. The PDEs inhibitors are used as powerful experimental tools to demonstrate cyclic nucleotide mediated changes in ovarian functions and thereby fertility. Indeed, non-hormonal nature and reversible effects of nonspecific as well as specific PDE inhibitors hold promise for the development of novel therapeutic drugs for female fertility regulation.
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