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Postnatal oogenesis in humans: a review of recent findings

Authors Virant-Klun I

Received 27 December 2014

Accepted for publication 3 February 2015

Published 20 March 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 49—60

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/SCCAA.S32650

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Bernard Binetruy

Irma Virant-Klun

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Medical Center Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Abstract: In spite of generally accepted dogma that the total number of follicles and oocytes is established in human ovaries during the fetal period of life rather than forming de novo in adult ovaries, some new evidence in the field challenges this understanding. Several studies have shown that different populations of stem cells, such as germinal stem cells and small round stem cells with diameters of 2 to 4 µm, that resembled very small embryonic-like stem cells and expressed several genes related to primordial germ cells, pluripotency, and germinal lineage are present in adult human ovaries and originate in ovarian surface epithelium. These small stem cells were pushed into the germinal direction of development and formed primitive oocyte-like cells in vitro. Moreover, oocyte-like cells were also formed in vitro from embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. This indicates that postnatal oogenesis is not excluded. It is further supported by the occurrence of mesenchymal stem cells that can restore the function of sterilized ovaries and lead to the formation of new follicles and oocytes in animal models. Both oogenesis in vitro and transplantation of stem cell-derived “oocytes” into the ovarian niche to direct their natural maturation represent a big challenge for reproductive biomedicine in the treatment of female infertility in the future and needs to be explored and interpreted with caution, but it is still very important for clinical practice in the field of reproductive medicine.

Keywords: human, follicle, oocyte, stem cells

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