Oocyte aging underlies female reproductive aging: biological mechanisms and therapeutic strategies

Reprod Med Biol. 2015 May 9;14(4):159-169. doi: 10.1007/s12522-015-0209-5. eCollection 2015 Oct.


In recent years, postponement of marriage and childbearing in women of reproductive age has led to an increase in the incidence of age-related infertility. The reproductive aging process in women is assumed to occur due to a decrease in both the quantity and quality of the oocytes, with the ultimate result being a decline in fecundity. This age-related decline in fecundity is strongly dependent on oocyte quality, which is critical for fertilization and subsequent embryo development. Aged oocytes display increased chromosomal abnormality and dysfunction of cellular organelles, both of which factor into oocyte quality. In particular, mitochondrial dysfunction has been suggested as a major contributor to the reduction in oocyte quality as well as to chromosomal abnormalities in aged oocytes and embryos. Participation of oxidative stress in the oocyte aging process has been proposed because oxidative stress has the capacity to induce mitochondrial dysfunction and directly damage many intracellular components of the oocytes such as lipids, protein, and DNA. In an attempt to improve mitochondrial function in aged oocytes, several therapeutic strategies have been investigated using both animal models and assisted reproductive technology. Here, we review the biological mechanisms and present status of therapeutic strategies in the female reproductive aging field and indicate possible future therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: Endoplasmic reticulum; Mitochondria; Oocyte aging; Oxidative stress; Reproductive aging.

Publication types

  • Review