Oocyte mitochondria-key regulators of oocyte function and potential therapeutic targets for improving fertility

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The development of oocytes and early embryos is dependent on mitochondrial ATP production. This reliance on mitochondrial activity, together with the exclusively maternal inheritance of mitochondria in development, places mitochondria as central regulators of both fertility and transgenerational inheritance mechanisms. Mitochondrial mass and mtDNA content massively increase during oocyte growth. They are highly dynamic organelles and oocyte maturation is accompanied by mitochondrial trafficking around subcellular compartments. Due to their key roles in generation of ATP and reactive oxygen species (ROS), oocyte mitochondrial defects have largely been linked with energy deficiency and oxidative stress. Pharmacological treatments and mitochondrial supplementation have been proposed to improve oocyte quality and fertility by enhancing ATP generation and reducing ROS levels. More recently, the role of mitochondria-derived metabolites in controlling epigenetic modifiers has provided a mechanistic basis for mitochondria-nuclear crosstalk, allowing adaptation of gene expression to specific metabolic states. Here, we discuss the multi-faceted mechanisms by which mitochondrial function influence oocyte quality, as well as longer-Term developmental events within and across generations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-377
Number of pages12
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • mitochondria
  • oocyte
  • therapeutic targets

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