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Reproduction. 2012 Jan 1;143(1):1-10. doi: 10.1530/REP-11-0350. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Ceramide and mitochondrial function in aging oocytes: joggling a new hypothesis and old players.

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Department of Human Anatomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.


Maternal aging adversely affects oocyte quality (function and developmental potential) and consequently lowers pregnancy rates while increasing spontaneous abortions. Substantial evidence, especially from egg donation studies, implicates the decreased quality of an aging oocyte as a major factor in the etiology of female infertility. Nevertheless, the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the decreased oocyte quality with advanced maternal aging are not fully characterized. Herein we present information in the published literature and our own data to support the hypothesis that during aging induced decreases in mitochondrial ceramide levels and associated alterations in mitochondrial structure and function are prominent elements contributing to reduced oocyte quality. Hence, by examining the molecular determinants that underlie impairments in oocyte mitochondria, we expect to sieve to a better understanding of the mechanistic anatomy of oocyte aging.

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