Research suggests porcine egg precursor cells have low mitochondrial variant load and come from same cell lineage as porcine eggs

A research paper ‘The molecular characterisation of porcine egg precursor cells’, published in the journal, Oncotarget, offers further evidence for the use of egg precursor (EggPCSM) cell mitochondria for egg supplementation by demonstrating that EggPC cells carry low levels of mitochondrial DNA variants and appear to come from the same cell lineage as eggs.

The research, led by the Head of the Centre for Genetic Diseases at Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Professor Jus St. John, and PhD student, Ms Te-Sha Tsai, builds on earlier work, which highlighted the potential of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to boost egg health and improve the chances of achieving fertilisation and embryo development.

In this study, investigators evaluated the mtDNA in porcine EggPC cells through genetic sequencing. Results indicate that EggPC cells have low levels of mtDNA variants. High levels of mtDNA variants are frequently associated with aging and other age-related disorders. Moreover, results show that variants observed in EggPC mtDNA can be traced through development to egg mtDNA, suggesting that EggPC cells and eggs share a common cell lineage.

“These findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting the development of EggPC cell-based treatments for female-factor infertility,” said Prof St. John. “Together, they suggest that EggPC cells are an ideal source of mitochondria for egg supplementation, as they harbor a low frequency of mtDNA variants and appear to be genetically identical to a woman’s own egg.”

Eggs that have the potential to fertilise normally contain more than 150,000 copies of mtDNA, which an egg needs to develop during and after fertilisation[1]. Many women undergoing IVF have insufficient copies of mtDNA, which results in their eggs failing to either fertilise or develop into embryos.

The results of the study, combined with Prof St. John’s earlier research[2] on the treatment potential of supplementing a women’s egg with mitochondria, highlight the potential of EggPC cells to be used in conjunction with IVF to significantly improve fertilisation and development into an embryo.

“Prof St. John’s research has produced important results in the field of mitochondrial genetics especially in egg and embryo development. Coupled with previous results demonstrating the potential of mitochondria to improve fertility, I believe this unique cell population could be used in conjunction with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or ovarian transplantation to enable women with low ovarian reserve or hormone sensitivity to successfully conceive,” said paper co-author Yvonne White, PhD, Senior Director of Research and Development at OvaScience.

References

  1. Santos TA, El Shourbagy S, and St. John JC (2006) Mitochondrial content reflects oocyte variability and fertilisation outcome. Fertil Steril 85(3):584-91.
  2. Cagnone G, et al. (2016) Restoration of normal embryogenesis by mitochondrial supplementation in pig oocytes exhibiting mitochondrial DNA deficiency. Sci Rep 6:23229.

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