Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus (DM) adversely affects oocyte maturation and embryo development via mechanisms that are yet unclear. Nonetheless, DM may cause uncoupling of nitric oxide synthases (NOSs) with reduction in the bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO), which is critical to maintain oocyte viability and prevent aging. The current study investigates the role of NO-mediated signaling related to oocyte aging in diabetic and nondiabetic mice. Age-related alterations in the oocytes, including ooplasmic microtubule dynamics (OMD), cortical granule (CG) status, and zona pellucida (ZP) hardening as well as the integrity of the spindle/chromatin were studied using confocal microscopy. Oocytes obtained from diabetic mice exhibited accelerated aging compared to that from nondiabetic mice. Moreover, oocytes from diabetic animals were exquisitely sensitive to NOS and guanylate cyclase (GC) inhibitors (L-NAME, ODQ), which induced aging and relatively resistant to its delay by the cGMP derivative (8-Br-cGMP). Oocytes from nondiabetic control mice displayed similar sensitivity to L-NAME in older oocytes, although to a significantly lower extent than that of DM (P < 0.04-0.0001). Despite the differences in response between DM and nonDM mice, the activation of cGMP pathway is essential to maintain the integrity of oocytes and delay oocyte aging. These findings not only indicate the role of NO signaling in the prevention of oocyte aging but also suggest enhanced aging and NO insufficiency in oocytes from diabetic mice. A comprehensive model incorporating our current findings with NOS, GC, and G kinase cycles is presented.
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