Probiotics Can Induce Follicle Maturational Competence: The Danio rerio Case

Giorgia Gioacchini, Elisabetta Giorgini, Daniel L. Merrifield, Gary Hardiman, Andrea Borini, Lisa Vaccari, Oliana Carnevali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


In the present study, the effects of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus IMC 501 on the acquisition of oocyte maturational competence was examined in zebrafish (Danio rerio). L. rhamnosus administration induced the responsiveness of incompetent follicles (stage IIIa) to 17,20-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one and their in vitro maturation. Acquisition of competence by the stage IIIa follicles was further validated by changes of lhr, mprb, inhbaa (activin betaA1), tgfb1, and gdf9 gene expression, which have recently emerged as key regulators of oocyte acquisition of maturational competence, and pou5f1 gene expression, which in other models has been shown to govern the establishment of developmental competence of oocytes. In addition, a DNA microarray experiment was conducted using the same follicles, and with relative gene ontology (GO) data analysis, the molecular effects of probiotic administration emerged. Molecular analysis using PCR-DGGE (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis) approach, providing information about only the most abundant bacterial members of the microbial community, revealed that the probiotic was able to populate the gastrointestinal tract and modulate the microbial communities, causing a clear shift in them and specifically enhancing the presence of the lactic acid bacteria Streptococcus thermophilus. At the same time, PCR-DGGE analysis revealed that the probiotic was not directly associated with the ovaries. Finally, the effects of probiotic treatment on zebrafish follicle development were also analyzed by FPA (focal plane array) Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) imaging, a technique that provides the overall biochemical composition of samples. Changes were found above all in stage IIIa follicles from probiotic-exposed females; the modifications, observed in protein secondary structures as well as in hydration and in bands related to phosphate moieties, allowed us to hypothesize that probiotics act at this follicle stage, affecting the maturation phase.

Original languageEnglish
Article number65
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA array
  • Fish reproduction
  • Follicle maturation
  • FPA FT-IR imaging
  • Gamete biology
  • Gene expression
  • Nutrition
  • Oocyte maturation
  • Real-time PCR
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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