Fate of the initial follicle pool: empirical and mathematical evidence supporting its sufficiency for adult fertility

Dev Biol. 2006 Oct 1;298(1):149-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.06.023. Epub 2006 Jun 18.


The importance of the initial follicle pool in fertility in female adult mammals has recently been debated. Utilizing a mathematical model of the dynamics of follicle progression (primordial to primary to secondary), we examined whether the initial follicle pool is sufficient for adult fertility through reproductive senescence in CD1 mice. Follicles in each stage were counted from postnatal day 6 through 12 months and data were fit to a series of first-order differential equations representing two mechanisms: an initial pool of primordial follicles as the only follicle source (fixed pool model), or an initial primordial follicle pool supplemented by germline stem cells (stem cell model). The fixed pool model fit the experimental data, accurately representing the maximum observed primary follicle number reached by 4-6 months of age. Although no germline stem cells could be identified by SSEA-1 immunostaining, the stem cell model was tested using a range of de novo primordial follicle production rates. The stem cell model failed to describe the observed decreases in follicles over time and did not parallel the accumulation and subsequent reduction in primary follicles during the early fertile lifespan of the mouse. Our results agree with established dogma that the initial endowment of ovarian follicles is not supplemented by an appreciable number of stem cells; rather, it is sufficient to ensure the fertility needs of the adult mouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Germ Cells / physiology
  • Lewis X Antigen / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Oocytes
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology*
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Lewis X Antigen