Acute dietary zinc deficiency before conception…

Acute dietary zinc deficiency before conception compromises oocyte epigenetic programming and disrupts embryonic development.

Tian X1, Diaz FJ.

1Center for Reproductive Biology and Health and Department of Animal Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Recent findings show that zinc is an important factor necessary for regulating the meiotic cell cycle and ovulation. However, the role of zinc in promoting oocyte quality and developmental potential is not known.

Using an in vivo model of acute dietary zinc deficiency, we show that feeding a zinc deficient diet (ZDD) for 3-5 days before ovulation (preconception) dramatically disrupts oocyte chromatin methylation and preimplantation development. There was a dramatic decrease in histone H3K4 trimethylation and global DNA methylation in zinc deficient oocytes.

Moreover, there was a 3-20 fold increase in transcript abundance of repetitive elements (Iap, Line1, Sineb1, Sineb2), but a decrease in Gdf9, Zp3 and Figla mRNA. Only 53% and 8% of mature eggs reached the 2-cell stage after IVF in animals receiving a 3 and 5 days ZDD, respectively, while a 5 day ZDD in vivo reduced the proportion of 2-cells to 49%. In vivo fertilized 2-cell embryos cultured in vitro formed fewer (38%) blastocysts compared to control embryos (74%).

Likewise, fewer blastocyst and expanded blastocyst were collected from the reproductive tract of zinc deficient animals on day 3.5 of pregnancy. This could be due to a decrease in Igf2 and H19 mRNA in ZDD blastocyst. Supplementation with a methyl donor (SAM) during IVM restored histone H3K4me3 and doubled the IVF success rate from 17% to 43% in oocytes from zinc deficient animals.

Thus, the terminal period of oocyte development is extremely sensitive to perturbation in dietary zinc availability.

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