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Hum Reprod. 2009 Dec;24(12):2974-8. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dep281. Epub 2009 Aug 17.

Stem cell support of oogenesis in the human.

Abstract

The possibility that women produce new oocytes post-natally as part of the normal physiological function of the ovary is currently under investigation. Post-natal production of oocyte-like cells has been detected under experimental conditions in the mouse. Although these cells have many characteristics of oocytes, their potential to mature to fertilization-competence was unproven. Zou et al. (Production of offspring from a germline stem cell line derived from neonatal ovaries. Nat Cell Biol 2009;11:631-636) made use of a striking cell isolation and culture strategy to establish cultures of proliferative germ cells from both newborn and adult ovaries. Their cells, referred to as female germline stem cells (FGSCs), proliferate long-term in culture and accept and maintain expression of a transgenic marker, green fluorescent protein. When delivered to the ovaries of conditioned mice, transgene-bearing FGSC engrafted, were enclosed within follicles, and when host females were mated, transgenic offspring were produced. That proliferative female germ cells capable of giving rise to offspring were detected in adult ovaries poses the question of whether they have a physiological role. Here, we discuss Zou et al.'s data in terms of our current understanding of mouse ovarian physiology, and how this may relate to human reproductive biology and the treatment of ovarian dysfunction.

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