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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Can ovarian infertility be treated with bone marrow- or ovary-derived germ cells?

Antonin Bukovsky
Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology: RB&E 2005, 3: 36
16102172
A year ago, reproductive biologists and general public were astonished with evidence reported by Johnson et al. in Nature 428:145 that mammalian ovaries possess persisting large germline stem cells, which allegedly enable follicular renewal in adult females. Recently, the same research group declared such view obscure, and reported that mammalian oocytes originate from putative germ cells in bone marrow and are distributed by peripheral blood to the ovaries (Cell 122:303). While neglecting available data on the germ cell origin from the ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) in adult mouse and human females and complexity of follicular renewal in humans, the authors widely extrapolated their observations on formation of allogeneic oocytes after bone marrow (or blood) transplantation in ovaries of adult mice treated with cytostatics to clinical implications in the public media. Yet, the resulting outcome that such allogeneic oocytes may enable the propagation of ovarian cycles is a poor alleviation for the women with ovarian infertility. Women lacking primary follicles, or carrying follicles with low quality eggs persisting in aging ovaries, are not concerned about the lack of menstrual cycles or ovarian steroids, but about virtually no chance of having genetically related children. Johnson et al. also reported that the germ cell formation in bone marrow disappears in ovariectomized mice. Such observation, however, raises solid doubts on the bone marrow origin of oocytes. Since germ cells developing from the OSE cells of adult human ovaries during periodical follicular renewal are known to enter blood vessels in order to enable formation of primary follicles at distant ovarian sites, they also contaminate peripheral blood and hence bone marrow. Better knowledge on the complexity of follicular renewal in humans and exploration of a potential of human OSE cells to produce new oocytes in vitro are essential for novel approaches to the autologous treatment of premature ovarian failure and age induced ovarian infertility.

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