Cumulus cells have longer telomeres than leukocytes in reproductive-age women

Fertil Steril. 2020 Jan;113(1):217-223. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2019.08.089. Epub 2019 Oct 6.


Objective: To investigate whether telomere length (TL) in granulosa cells (GC) or cumulus cells (CC) correlates with TL in leukocytes (L).

Design: Prospective noninterventional study.

Setting: Private assisted reproductive technology center.

Patient(s): Thirty-five egg donors were included in the study.

Interventions(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): Average relative leukocyte telomere length (LTL), cumulus cell telomere length (CCTL), and granulosa cell telomere length (GCTL) measurements from each study subject.

Result(s): Participants had a mean age of 25.43 ± 4.57 years, antimüllerian hormone level of 1.90 ± 0.92 ng/mL, antral follicle count of 23.29 ± 5.11, and the mean number of mature oocytes retrieved was 23.29 ± 9.13. No significant association between these variables and GCTL, CCTL, or LTL was found. In addition, no correlation was observed between TL measurements of L vs. CC, L vs. GC, or CC vs. GC. Interestingly, CCTL was significantly higher than LTL (1.54-fold), although no significant differences were found between GCTL vs. CCTL or GCTL vs. LTL.

Conclusion(s): CC from mature follicles have significantly longer telomeres than L, suggesting that the follicular environment could possess different mechanisms to cope against telomere shortening compared with other somatic tissues. Furthermore, these data do not support the utility of telomere DNA measurement in L as an estimate of TL in follicular cells.

Keywords: IVF; Telomeres; cumulus cells; ovarian biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cumulus Cells / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Oocyte Donation / methods
  • Proof of Concept Study*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Telomere / physiology
  • Telomere Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Young Adult