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Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Jun;22(3):235-41. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e328338c152.

Stem cells and reproduction.

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  • 1Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St., New Haven, CT 06520, USA



To review the latest developments in reproductive tract stem cell biology.


In 2004, two studies indicated that ovaries contain stem cells which form oocytes in adults and that can be cultured in vitro into mature oocytes. A live birth after orthotopic transplantation of cryopreserved ovarian tissue in a woman whose ovaries were damaged by chemotherapy demonstrates the clinical potential of these cells. In the same year, another study provided novel evidence of endometrial regeneration by stem cells in women who received bone marrow transplants. This finding has potential for the use in treatment of uterine disorders. It also supports a new theory for the cause of endometriosis, which may have its origin in ectopic transdifferentiation of stem cells. Several recent studies have demonstrated that fetal cells enter the maternal circulation and generate microchimerism in the mother. The uterus is a dynamic organ permeable to fetal stem cells, capable of transdifferentiation and an end organ in which bone marrow stem cells may differentiate. Finally stem cell transformation can be an underlying cause of ovarian cancer.


Whereas we are just beginning to understand stem cells, the potential implications of stem cells to reproductive biology and medicine are apparent.

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