, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 1019–1025 | Cite as

Apoptosis in mammalian oocytes: a review

  • Meenakshi Tiwari
  • Shilpa Prasad
  • Anima Tripathi
  • Ashutosh N. Pandey
  • Irfan Ali
  • Arvind K. Singh
  • Tulsidas G. Shrivastav
  • Shail K. ChaubeEmail author
Original Paper


Apoptosis causes elimination of more than 99 % of germ cells from cohort of ovary through follicular atresia. Less than 1 % of germ cells, which are culminated in oocytes further undergo apoptosis during last phases of oogenesis and depletes ovarian reserve in most of the mammalian species including human. There are several players that induce apoptosis directly or indirectly in oocytes at various stages of meiotic cell cycle. Premature removal of encircling granulosa cells from immature oocytes, reduced levels of adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate and guanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate, increased levels of calcium (Ca2+) and oxidants, sustained reduced level of maturation promoting factor, depletion of survival factors, nutrients and cell cycle proteins, reduced meiotic competency, increased levels of proapoptotic as well as apoptotic factors lead to oocyte apoptosis. The BH3-only proteins also act as key regulators of apoptosis in oocyte within the ovary. Both intrinsic (mitochondria-mediated) as well as extrinsic (cell surface death receptor-mediated) pathways are involved in oocyte apoptosis. BID, a BH3-only protein act as a bridge between both apoptotic pathways and its cleavage activates cell death machinery of both the pathways inside the follicular microenvironment. Oocyte apoptosis leads to the depletion of ovarian reserve that directly affects reproductive outcome of various mammals including human. In this review article, we highlight some of the important players and describe the pathways involved during oocyte apoptosis in mammals.


Ovary Oocyte Granulosa cells Signal molecules Apoptotic pathways 



The part of this study was funded by Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meenakshi Tiwari
    • 1
  • Shilpa Prasad
    • 1
  • Anima Tripathi
    • 1
  • Ashutosh N. Pandey
    • 1
  • Irfan Ali
    • 1
  • Arvind K. Singh
    • 2
  • Tulsidas G. Shrivastav
    • 3
  • Shail K. Chaube
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Cell Physiology Laboratory, Department of ZoologyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasi-India
  2. 2.Genetics Laboratory, Department of ZoologyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia
  3. 3.Department of Reproductive BiomedicineNational Institute of Health and Family WelfareNew DelhiIndia

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