Egg stem cells do not exist, study

Determining the existence of hotly debated so-called egg stem cells.


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The human ovary orchestrates sex hormone production and undergoes monthly structural changes to release mature oocytes. The outer lining of the ovary (cortex) has a crucial role in defining fertility in women as it harbors the ovarian reserve.

It has been theorized that putative oogonial stem cells exist in the ovarian cortex and that these can be captured by DDX4 antibody isolation.

A new study sought to determine the existence of hotly debated so-called egg stem cells. For this purpose, scientists from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden examined more than 24,000 types of cells in the human ovary and found that the hotly debated so-called egg stem cells do not exist.

Fredrik Lanner, a researcher in obstetrics and gynecology at the Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology at Karolinska Institutet, said“The question of whether egg stem cells exist affects issues related to fertility treatment since stem cells have properties that differ from other cells.”

Co-author Pauliina Damdimopoulou, a researcher in obstetrics and gynecology at the same department, said, “Involuntary childlessness and female fertility are huge fields of research. This has been a controversial issue involving the testing of experimental fertility treatments.”

The new study provides evidence that egg stem cells do not exist. Instead, the research suggests that these are so-called perivascular cells.

Scientists also analyzed cells collected from the ovarian medulla. This enabled them to represent a complete cell map of the human ovary. The map contributes to the development of improved methods of treating female infertility.

Damdimopoulou said, “The lack of knowledge about what a normal ovary looks like has held back developments. This study now lays the ground on which to produce new methods that focus on the egg cells that already exist in the ovary. This could involve letting egg cells mature in test tubes or perhaps developing artificial ovaries in a lab.”

The results of the new study show that the main cell types in the ovary are egg cells, granulosa cells, immune cells, endothelial cells, perivascular cells, and stromal cells.

The results are published in Nature Communications.