It is well established that age-related decline of a woman's fertility is related to the poor developmental potential of her gametes. The age-associated decline in female fertility is largely attributable to the oocyte aging caused by ovarian aging. Age-associated oocyte aging results in a decrease in oocyte quality. In contrast to ovarian aging, there is a concept of postovulatory oocyte aging. Postovulatory aging of oocytes, not being fertilized for a prolonged time after ovulation, is known to significantly affect the development of oocytes. Both categories of oocyte aging have similar phenotypes of reproductive failure. However, the mechanisms of the decline in oocyte quality are not necessarily equivalent. An age-dependent increase in aneuploidy is a key determinant of oocyte quality. The reduced expression of molecules regulating cell cycle control during meiosis might be involved in the age-dependent increase in aneuploidy. The mechanism of age-associated oocyte aging might be involved in mitochondrial dysfunction, whose etiologies are still unknown. Alternatively, the mechanism of postovulatory oocyte aging might be involved in reactive oxygen species-induced mitochondrial injury pathways followed by abnormal intracellular Ca2+ regulation of the endoplasmic reticulum. We suggest that future research into the mechanism of oocyte aging will be necessary to develop a method to rescue the poor developmental potential of aged oocytes.
Keywords: Calcium regulation; Oocyte aging; Ovarian aging; Oxidative stress; Postovulatory oocyte aging.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors have nothing to disclose.
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