(HealthDay News) – Human ovaries contain rare mitotically active stem cells that can be purified and used to generate oocytes, as has been previously shown in mice, according to a study published online Feb. 26 in Nature Medicine.

Yvonne A.R. White, PhD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues described and validated a fluorescence-activated cell sorting-based protocol that can be used to purify rare mitotically active cells from adult mouse ovaries and human ovarian cortical cells.

The researchers found that the expression profile of the purified cells was consistent with primitive germ cells. Once established in vitro, these cells grew and spontaneously generated 35µm–50µm oocytes. The human germline cells were engineered to stably express green fluorescent protein (GFP) and injected into human ovarian cortical biopsies. Xenotransplantation into immunodeficient female mice resulted in the formation of follicles containing GFP-positive oocytes after one to two weeks.

“Thus, ovaries of reproductive-age women, similar to adult mice, possess rare mitotically active germ cells that can be propagated in vitro as well as generate oocytes in vitro and in vivo,” White and colleagues conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to OvaScience Inc.; one author disclosed interest in a patent related to female germline stem cell research.

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