An extremely valuable source of eggs has been discovered in female mice. The discovery was described as a potentially infinite source of female fertility, or germline stem cells, which can continue producing new egg cells in adults, which could be a cure for sterility and menopause.
The discovery was made by Ji Wu of the University of Shanghai Jiao Tong and contradicts previous research on the female reproductive system, possibly paving the way for new prospects to treat sterility and revolutionize female reproduction, which after menopause could make use of germline stem cells that were previously isolated and frozen to result in future pregnancies.
According to reports in Nature Cell Biology Magazine, stem cells isolated from the ovaries of adult mice were implanted into the ovaries of mice that were previously sterile, which later became pregnant and gave birth to healthy offspring.
According to what scientists have learned, a woman’s reproductive potential is decided and limited at birth with the formation of a fixed number of eggs, which activate during puberty and result in menopause when consumed. While in males, it was discovered that the testicles have a double line of male germ cells that constantly produce new sperm. However, no observation of this type has ever been made in females.
Chinese researchers now say that they have isolated female germline stem cells in the ovaries of mice just after birth (5 days) and in adult mice.
When their ovaries are injected with thousands of these stem cells, the mice stopped being fertile and naturally gave birth to healthy offspring. The female germline stem cells were first frozen, and then were thawed and implanted into the ovaries of sterile mice, a procedure adopted in order to simulate a therapy that could be performed to combat female sterility in the future.
Hypothetically, if similar germline stem cells were also found in women, they could be removed, frozen and used when needed. Each woman could store her own germline cells in special banks. This could eventually help women who have undergone chemotherapy making them sterile, and restore their fertility. The same procedure could be adopted for women who want to have more children after menopause.
Obviously this is only a future possibility. First, it will be necessary to demonstrate that female germline cells are present in humans and can be isolated from human ovaries. Then tests will have to be done to show that these cells are able to produce more eggs that can be fertilized to produce healthy offspring. This discovery could lead to new and exciting scenarios for female reproduction.