Chronic low-dose antiprogestin impairs preimplantation embryogenesis, but not oocyte nuclear maturation or fertilization in rhesus monkeys

Sherri M. Borman, Kristof Chwalisz, Richard Stouffer, Mary B. Zelinski-Wooten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Continual administration of low doses of the antiprogestin ZK137316 permits ovarian/menstrual cyclicity, but prevents pregnancy in female rhesus monkeys. The sites of contraceptive action remain unknown. This study determined whether chronic, low-dose antiprogestin exposure during follicular development impairs oocyte maturation in vivo, as well as fertilization and preimplantation embryogenesis in vitro. Adult, female rhesus monkeys exhibiting normal menstrual cycles received vehicle (n=9) or 0.03mg ZK137316 (n=8)/kg body weight i.m. daily for 3 months. Controlled ovarian stimulation with recombinant gonadotropins was initiated in the 3rd month. Oocytes collected from preovulatory follicles were evaluated for nuclear maturity and inseminated in vitro. Preimplantation embryonic development was monitored in vitro. The total number of oocytes and percentage collected at each nuclear stage were similar in both groups. More (P<0.05) atretic oocytes were recovered following antiprogestin relative to vehicle treatment. Fertilization rates and percentages of embryos that progressed to the morula stage were similar between groups, but antiprogestin-treated females exhibited less (P<0.05) normal cleavage. Embryonic development was accelerated by 1 day (P<0.05) from the 16-cell to the morula stage in the antiprogestin group relative to vehicle. Despite this, the majority of embryos became blastocysts within 6 days in vitro in the antiprogestin group, but fewer expanded (P=0.09) and hatched (P<0.05) compared to vehicle. During in vivo treatment with chronic, low-dose antiprogestin, oocytes retained their ability to resume and complete meiosis as well as fertilize following insemination in vitro. However, preimplantation embryogenesis in vitro was impaired, particularly during the later stages of blastocyst development. Thus, antiprogestin exposure during follicular development altered oocyte functions that are critical for normal preimplantation embryogenesis; this may contribute to pregnancy prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1041-1051
Number of pages11
Issue number10-13
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Antiprogestin
  • Contraception
  • Oocyte
  • Preimplantation embryogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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