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Oocyte mitochondrial function and reproduction

Babayev, Elnur; Seli, Emre

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: June 2015 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 175–181
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000164
FERTILITY, IVF AND REPRODUCTIVE GENETICS: Edited by Emre Seli and Juan Antonio García Velasco

Purpose of review Mitochondria are cellular organelles that are required for energy production. Emerging evidence demonstrates their role in oocyte development and reproduction. In this review, we examine recent animal and clinical studies on the role of mitochondria in fertility. We also analyse the impact of assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) on mitochondrial function and discuss the future clinical implications of mitochondrial nutrients and mitochondrial replacement.

Recent findings Mitochondria affect all aspects of mammalian reproduction. They are essential for optimal oocyte maturation, fertilization and embryonic development. Mitochondrial dysfunction causes a decrease in oocyte quality and interferes with embryonic development. ART procedures affect mitochondrial function, while mitochondrial nutrients may increase mitochondrial performance in oocytes. New mitochondrial replacement procedures using mitochondria obtained from polar bodies or from the patient's own oogonial stem cells are promising and may address concerns related to the induction of high-levels of heteroplasmy, which could potentially result in negative long-term health effects.

Summary Optimal energy production is required for oocyte and embryo development, and mitochondrial abnormalities have devastating reproductive consequences. Improvement of oocyte mitochondrial function via intake of compounds that boost mitochondrial activity may have clinical benefits, and mitochondrial replacement could potentially be used for the prevention of mitochondrial diseases.

Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Correspondence to Emre Seli, MD, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Yale School of Medicine, 310 Cedar Street LSOG 304B, New Haven, CT 06520-8063, USA. Tel: +1 203 785 7873; fax: +1 203 785 7819; e-mail:

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