The next (re)generation of ovarian biology and fertility in women: is current science tomorrow's practice?
Stem cell-based strategies for ovarian regeneration and oocyte production have been proposed as future clinical therapies for treating infertility in women. However, utilization of embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells to produce oocytes has had limited success in vitro. A recent report of the isolation and characterization of endogenous oocyte-producing or oogonial stem cells (OSCs) from ovaries of reproductive age women describes the first stable and pure human female germ cell culture model in which a subset of cells appear to initiate and complete meiosis. In addition, purified human OSCs introduced into adult human ovarian cortical tissue generate oocytes that arrest at the diplotene stage of meiosis and successfully recruit granulosa cells to form new primordial follicles. This overview examines the current landscape of in vitro and in vivo gametogenesis from stem cells, with emphasis on generation of human oocytes. Future research objectives for this area of work, as well as potential clinical applications involving the use of human OSCs, are discussed.