The existence and potential of germline stem cells in the adult mammalian ovary

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It has long been accepted that the complement of follicles within the ovary is formed before birth in humans, or shortly after birth in rodents and that no follicles are formed thereafter. This follows entry of all oogonia into meiosis in fetal life, with no remaining germ stem cells in the ovary, in contrast to the presence of spermatogonia in the testis. This has been brought back into debate in recent years, following the demonstration of the isolation of cells expressing both germline and stem markers from the postnatal ovary in several species, including human. We describe these cells as putative ovarian stem cells. Isolation of these cells is challenging, adding to the debate as to their existence, and the validity of DDX4 as the main marker used for their isolation has also to be questioned. While different groups have used varying techniques and indeed terminology to describe these cells, the body of evidence regarding their initial characterization after isolation is growing. There remain very limited data regarding their developmental potential, but the demonstration of the production of functional oocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells, and advances in ovarian follicle culture techniques, provide a basis for such studies.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jan 2019


  • Oogonial stem cells
  • ovarian regeneration
  • oocyte
  • neo-oogenesis


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