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Premature ovarian insufficiency – a condition in which the ovaries fail earlier than usual – affects more than 3.5 percent of females worldwide, often due to genetics, autoimmune disorders, or exposure to certain drugs, such as those used in chemotherapy. The condition has limited treatment options, but a new study in mice suggests that induced pluripotent stem cells could help.

Induced pluripotent stem cells are stem cells that have been reprogrammed into an embryonic-like pluripotent state. They can develop into any type of human cell and are commonly used in biomedical research and treatment.

Researchers reprogrammed granulosa cells from the ovaries of mice to become induced pluripotent stem cells and then allowed them to differentiate into oocytes (immature eggs). They transplanted the oocytes into the ovaries of mice with drug-induced premature ovarian insufficiency. Then, they bred the transplanted mice with normal animals to assess their fertility.

They found that the induced pluripotent stem cells transformed into functional oocytes and ovarian cells, expressing specific markers for ovaries and germ cells. After transplantation, the animals' hormonal function and fertility normalized, and they gave birth to healthy mouse pups.

These findings suggest that induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ovarian tissue can reverse the hormonal and reproductive problems characterized by premature ovarian insufficiency. They also highlight yet another potential use for induced pluripotent stem cells in ameliorating various human diseases. Learn how induced pluripotent stem cells may help treat macular degeneration in this clip featuring Dr. David Sinclair.

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