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Nat Protoc. 2013 May;8(5):966-88. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2013.047. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Isolation, characterization and propagation of mitotically active germ cells from adult mouse and human ovaries.

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Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Accruing evidence indicates that production of new oocytes (oogenesis) and their enclosure by somatic cells (folliculogenesis) are processes not limited to the perinatal period in mammals. Endpoints ranging from oocyte counts to genetic lineage tracing and transplantation experiments support a paradigm shift in reproductive biology involving active renewal of oocyte-containing follicles during postnatal life. The recent purification of mitotically active oocyte progenitor cells, termed female germline stem cells (fGSCs) or oogonial stem cells (OSCs), from mouse and human ovaries opens up new avenues for research into the biology and clinical utility of these cells. Here we detail methods for the isolation of mouse and human OSCs from adult ovarian tissue, cultivation of the cells after purification, and characterization of the cells before and after ex vivo expansion. The latter methods include analysis of germ cell-specific markers and in vitro oogenesis, as well as the use of intraovarian transplantation to test the oocyte-forming potential of OSCs in vivo.

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