, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 1065–1087 | Cite as

Life and death of female gametes during oogenesis and folliculogenesis

  • Dmitri V. Krysko
  • Araceli Diez-Fraile
  • Godelieve Criel
  • Andrei A. Svistunov
  • Peter Vandenabeele
  • Katharina D’Herde
Original Paper


The vertebrate ovary is an extremely dynamic organ in which excessive or defective follicles are rapidly and effectively eliminated early in ontogeny and thereafter continuously throughout reproductive life. More than 99% of follicles disappear, primarily due to apoptosis of granulosa cells, and only a minute fraction of the surviving follicles successfully complete the path to ovulation. The balance between signals for cell death and survival determines the destiny of the follicles. An abnormally high rate of cell death followed by atresia can negatively affect fertility and eventually lead irreversibly to premature ovarian failure. In this review we provide a short overview of the role of programmed cell death in prenatal differentiation of the primordial germ cells and in postnatal folliculogenesis. We also discuss the issue of neo-oogenesis. Next, we highlight molecules involved in regulation of granulosa cell apoptosis. We further discuss the potential use of scores for apoptosis in granulosa cells and characteristics of follicular fluid as prognostic markers for predicting the outcome of assisted reproduction. Potential therapeutic strategies for combating premature ovarian failure are also addressed.


Granulosa cell Follicular fluid Follicular atresia Apoptosis Caspases Premature ovarian failure Autophagy Neo-oogenesis Gap junctions 



Dmitri V. Krysko is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the BOF (Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds 01P05807), Ghent University. We thank Dr. Amin Bredan for editing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dmitri V. Krysko
    • 1
    • 2
  • Araceli Diez-Fraile
    • 3
  • Godelieve Criel
    • 3
  • Andrei A. Svistunov
    • 4
  • Peter Vandenabeele
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katharina D’Herde
    • 3
  1. 1.Department for Molecular Biomedical ResearchMolecular Signaling and Cell Death Unit, VIBGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Molecular BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Human Anatomy, Embryology, Histology and Medical PhysicsGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Pharmacology and Clinical PharmacologySaratov State Medical UniversitySaratovRussia

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