Mitochondria in oocyte aging: current understanding


Oocyte, aging, mitochondria, mtDNA, embryo

Published online: Mar 30 2017

D. ZHANG1,2, D. KEILTY3, Z.-F. ZHANG1,2, R.-C. CHIAN1,3

1State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, P. R. of China; 2Hangzhou Women’s Hospital, Hangzhou, P. R. of China; 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.



The oocyte is the largest cell found in multicellular organisms. Mitochondria, as the energy factories for cells, are found in high numbers in oocytes, as they provide the energy for oocyte maturation, fertilization, and embryo formation via oxidative phosphorylation. Failure of assisted reproduction is mainly attributed to oocyte aging and increased aneuploidy. As the most numerous organelle in the oocyte, the mitochondrion has been confirmed as a crucial player in the process of oocyte aging, which is highly influenced by mitochondrion dysfunction. Every mitochondrion contains one or more mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecule, which, at about 16.5 KD in length, encodes 13 proteins. In this review, we discuss the function of mitochondria and the relationship between mtDNA and oocyte aging. We also discuss technologies that aim to enhance oocyte developmental potential and delay ovarian aging.