Single-cell RNA sequencing of oocytes from ovarian endometriosis patients reveals a differential transcriptomic profile associated with lower quality

Hum Reprod. 2019 Jul 8;34(7):1302-1312. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dez053.


Study question: Do oocytes from women with ovarian endometriosis (OE) have a different transcriptomic profile than those from healthy women?

Summary answer: Oocytes from endometriosis patients, independently of whether they came from the affected ovary, exhibited a differential transcriptomic profile compared to oocytes from healthy egg donors.

What is known already: Studies of endometriosis have sought to determine whether OE affects oocyte quality. While many reports indicate that oocytes recovered from endometriotic ovaries may be affected by the disease, other studies have found no significant differences among oocyte/embryo quality and fertilization, implantation and pregnancy rates in women with endometriosis.

Study design, size, duration: This prospective study compared metaphase II (MII) oocytes (n = 16) from endometriosis patients (n = 7) to oocytes (n = 16) from healthy egg donors (n = 5) by single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). Participants were recruited between December 2016 and February 2018 at IVI-RMA Valencia and Vigo clinics.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: Human MII oocytes were collected from healthy egg donors and OE patients aged 18-34 years, with a body mass index of <30 and >6 pre-antral follicles. RNA was extracted, cDNA was generated and libraries were constructed and sequenced. scRNA-seq data libraries were processed and statistically analysed. Selected genes were validated by quantitative real-time PCR.

Main results and the role of chance: Our scRNA-seq results revealed an effect of endometriosis on global transcriptome behaviour in oocytes from endometriotic ovaries. The highest number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) was found when oocytes from women with OE were compared to oocytes from healthy donors [520 DEGs (394 upregulated and 126 downregulated)], independently of whether oocytes came from an affected or unaffected ovary. Among the top 20 significant DEGs in this comparison, most were upregulated, including APOE, DUSP1, G0S2, H2AFZ, ID4, MGST1 and WEE1. PXK was the only downregulated gene. Subsequently, functional analysis showed 31 enriched functions deregulated in endometriosis patients (Benjamini P < 0.1), being 16 significant enriched functions considering Benjamini P < 0.05, which involved in biological processes and molecular functions, such as steroid metabolism, response to oxidative stress and cell growth regulation. In addition, our functional analysis showed enrichment for mitochondria, which are an important cellular component in oocyte development. Other functions important in embryo development, such as angiogenesis and methylation, were also significantly enriched.

Large scale data: All raw sequencing data are submitted in Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) under accession number (PRJNA514416).

Limitations, reasons for caution: This study was restricted only to OE and thereby other anatomical entities, such as peritoneal and deep infiltrating endometriosis, were not considered. This is a descriptive study with a limited number of samples reflecting the difficulty to recruit human oocytes, especially from women with endometriosis.

Wider implications of the findings: This study suggests that OE exhibits a global transcriptomic effect on oocytes of patients in OE, independently if they come from an affected or unaffected ovary and alters key biological processes and molecular functions related to steroid metabolism, response to oxidative stress and cell growth regulation, which reduce oocyte quality.

Study funding/competing interest(s): This research was supported by IVI Foundation, the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the Miguel Servet programme (CPII018/00002 to F.D.), the Sara Borrell Program (CD15/00057 to H.F.) and the VALi+d Programe (Generalitat Valenciana); ACIF/2016/444 to A.C.). The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Trial registration number: None.

Keywords: cell cycle; oocyte quality; ovarian endometriosis; oxidative stress; single-cell RNA-seq; steroid metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Endometriosis / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Diseases / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Transcriptome*
  • Young Adult