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J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2013 Oct;39(10):1431-9. doi: 10.1111/jog.12111. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Molecular mechanism of poor embryo development in postovulatory aged oocytes: mini review.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yamagata University Faculty of Medicine, Yamagata, Japan.


Oocyte quality is a key factor in determining embryo development; however, we have a poor understanding of what constitutes oocyte quality or the mechanisms governing it. Postovulatory aging of oocytes that have not been fertilized for a prolonged time after ovulation is known to significantly impair oocyte quality and subsequent embryo development after fertilization. Embryos derived from postovulatory-aged oocytes are prone to undergo apoptosis due to the decreased Bcl-2 expression. Postovulatory aging of oocytes changes the patterns of Ca(2+) oscillations at fertilization as a result of impaired Ca(2+) regulation in the endoplasmic reticulum. Moreover, postovulatory aging of oocytes impairs mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate production as a result of increasing oxidative stresses. Oxidative stresses also affect intracellular Ca(2+) regulation and impair embryo development after fertilization. Collectively, the mechanism of postovulatory oocyte aging might be involved in reactive oxygen species-induced mitochondrial injury followed by abnormal intracellular Ca(2+) regulation in the endoplasmic reticulum.


calcium oscillation; endoplasmic reticulum; oxidative stress; postovulatory oocyte aging

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