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MGH researchers confirm that bone marrow restores fertility in female mice

A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers confirms that female mice that receive bone marrow transplantation after fertility-destroying chemotherapy can go on to have successful pregnancies throughout their normal reproductive life. The report in the August 1 Journal of Clinical Oncology verifies that donor marrow can restore fertility in female mice through an as-yet unidentified mechanism. While donor-derived egg cells or oocytes were observed in the ovaries of marrow recipients, all pups born were from the recipients own eggs.

Consistent with our past work, cells derived from the donor bone marrow are getting into the ovaries and developing into immature oocytes, says Jonathan Tilly, PhD, director of the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology (www.vcrb.org) at MGH, the studys senior author. Although these oocytes derived from marrow cells dont appear competent, at least thus far, to make fertilizable eggs, marrow does contribute something that allows a resumption of fertility in female mice sterilized by chemotherapy.

In a 2005 paper published in the journal Cell, Tillys group found that the ovaries of female mice that had received bone marrow or blood cell transplants after fertility-destroying doses of chemotherapy appeared normal and contained immature oocytes expressing a marker protein indicating they came from the donor cells. This report followed a 2004 Nature paper, also from Tillys team, reporting that female mice continued producing eggs well into adulthood, in contrast to the long-held belief that female mammals are born with a finite supply of eggs that is depleted throughout life. Both those papers have been extremely controversial, and the current study was designed to follow up the 2005 paper and to address criticisms raised by other researchers.

In the current study, adult female mice treated with infertility-inducing chemotherapy received bone marr
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
31-Jul-2007


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