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Hum Reprod. 2011 Aug;26(8):2129-39. doi: 10.1093/humrep/der145. Epub 2011 May 13.

No evidence for the presence of oogonia in the human ovary after their final clearance during the first two years of life.

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Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, Section 5712, University Hospital of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Section 5712, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.



Conflicting results of studies on mouse and human have either verified or refuted the presence of oogonia/primordial germ cells in the post-natal ovary. The aim of this study was to trace whether oogonia recognized by immunohistochemical methods in the first trimester human ovary were present also in peri- and post-natal ovaries.


For this study, 82 human ovaries were collected: 25 from embryos from 5 to 10 weeks post conception (wpc), 2 at 18 wpc, 32 from 32 wpc to 2 years and 23 from 2 to 32 years. Of these, 80 ovaries were fixed and paraffin-embedded and 2 (8 year-old) ovaries were processed for plastic sections. Serial sections were prepared for immunohistochemical detection of markers for oogonia: tyrosine kinase receptor for stem cell factor (SCF)(C-KIT), stage-specific embryonic antigen-4 (SSEA4), homeobox gene transcription factor (NANOG), octamer binding transcription factor 4 (OCT4) and melanoma antigen-4 (Mage-A4), while noting that C-KIT also stains diplotene oocytes.


Almost all oogonia exclusively stained for SSEA4, NANOG, OCT4 and C-KIT, whereas MAGE-A4 only stained a small fraction. At birth only a few oogonia were stained. These disappeared before 2 years, leaving only diplotene oocytes stained for C-KIT. From 18 wpc to 2 years, the medulla contained conglomerates of healthy and degenerating oogonia and small follicles, waste baskets (WBs) and oogonia enclosed in growing follicles (FWB). Medulla of older ovaries contained groups of primordial, healthy follicles.


We found no evidence for the presence of oogonia in the human ovary after their final clearing during the first 2 years. We suggest that perinatal medullary WB and FWB give rise to the groups of small, healthy follicles in the medulla.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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