Melatonin is a multifunctional molecule that mediates several circadian and seasonal reproductive processes. The exact role of melatonin in modulating reproduction, however, is not fully understood—especially its effects on the ovarian follicles and
oocytes. This study was conducted to investigate the expressions of the ASMT and melatonin-receptor MTNR1A and MTNR1B genes in bovine oocytes and their cumulus cells, as well as the effects of melatonin on oocyte nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation in vitro. Cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) from abattoir ovaries were cultured in TCM-199 supplemented with melatonin at concentrations of 0, 10, 50, and 100 ng/ml. The expression of ASMT, MTNR1A, and MTNR1B genes was evaluated by RT-PCR. Moreover, the effects of melatonin on cumulus cell expansion, nuclear maturation, mitochondrial characteristics and COCs steroidogenesis were investigated. Furthermore, the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was evaluated in denuded oocytes. Our study revealed that ASMT and MTNR1A genes were
expressed in COCs, while the MTNR1B gene was expressed only in oocytes. Additionally, melatonin supplementation at 10 and 50 ng/ml to in vitro maturation medium significantly enhanced oocyte nuclear maturation, cumulus cell expansion and altered the mitochondrial distribution patterns, but had no effects on oocyte
mitochondrial activity and COCs steroidogenesis. Melatonin-treated oocytes had a significantly lower level of ROS than controls. The presence of melatonin receptors in COCs and its promoting effects on oocyte nuclear and cytoplasmic events, indicate the potentially important roles of this hormone in regulating bovine oocyte maturation. Moreover, the presence of ASMT transcript in COCs suggests the possible involvement
of these cells in melatonin biosynthesis.