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Dr Giovanni Ruvolo


Dr Giovanni Ruvolo received his Degree in Biology in 1988 at the University of Palermo, Italy and his Degree in Biotechnology in 2003. He has been working as an embryologist in the IVF Lab of “Centro di Biologia della Riproduzione”, Palermo, Italy since 1992.

From 1999 to 2012, Dr Ruvolo lectured at the “Permanent Stages of Human Reproductive Phisiopathology”, organized by the Centro di Biologia della Riproduzione and by the Fondazione per gli Studi sulla Riproduzione Umana.

Dr Giovanni Ruvolo is a contract Professor at the Endocrinology Department, Catania University, Italy since 1999 and was at Palermo University from 2005 to 2008.

Dr Giovanni Ruvolo has been collaborating as an expert consultant with the STEMBIO Department at the Palermo University since 2004. 

Project: A new strategy in selecting oocytes with high implantation potentiality

The aim of this research project is to investigate the apoptosis rate of individual  cumulus cell–oocyte complexes (COCS), associated to the level of Amphyregulin, Neuregulin, pAkt and ERK 1/2 as markers of oocyte quality, prior to perform intracytoplasmatic sperm injection, in patients undergoing ART procedure.

In our previous study (Ruvolo et al., 2007) we demonstrated that DNA fragmentation in cumulus cells was remarkably lower in patients who achieved a pregnancy after ICSI cycles, than in those who did not. We also demonstrated that in selected patients, who received recombinant LH associated to recombinant FSH as treatment for ovarian stimulation, the DNA fragmentation in cumulus cells was significantly lower and pregnancy rate higher compared to patients treated with r-FSH alone.

It has been shown that the ovulatory action of LH is mediated by EGF-like regulatory factors, acting on EGF receptor (EGFR). One of these factors, the Anfiregulin (AR), seems to have the ability to improve the cytoplasmic and nuclear maturation of oocytes cultured in the presence of human cumulus cells (Goud et al., 1998). Neuregulin 1 (NRG) type III, is expressed by granulosa cells and it is a ligand to ERBB3, an EGFR. NRG and AR seem to regulate the cumulus and granulusa cells functions. NRG1 (III) is a new factor that could play a pivotal role in the process of oocyte maturation (Noma et al., 2011).

Our aim is to find molecular markers, easy to manage and to introduce in routine activity in an IVF clinic, to select oocytes with higher implantation potentiality, using the cumulus cells apoptosis rate (by TUNEL assay), together with the levels of AR and/or NRG1. The research aims, also, to test the effect of exogenous r-LH combined  with r-FSH administration in ovarian stimulation on the regulation of the analysed pathways, compared with the  r-FSH  alone treatment. For this purpose the patients included in this study will be randomized in two groups: one group will be stimulated with r-FSH combined with r-LH (LH group), and a second group will be stimulated with r-FSH and used as a control group (control group).

From a scientific point of view, our interest is also to verify the relationship between AR and NRG1 and the expression of pAkt, a strong inhibitor of apoptosis process that regulate ERK 1/2 in controlling apoptosis pathways in cumulus and granulosa cells (Zhuang et al., 2006), with the aim to better understand the selection of the dominant follicle and the synchronization of oocyte cytoplasmic and nuclear maturation.