Impact of maternal aging on the molecular signature of human cumulus cells

Cumulus cell gene and protein expression are impacted by maternal aging.

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Susanna McReynolds, Ph.D., Monika Dzieciatkowska, Ph.D., Blair McCallie, B.S., Shane Mitchell, B.S., John Stevens, B.S., Kirk Hansen, Ph.D., William B. Schoolcraft, M.D., Mandy G. Katz-Jaffe, Ph.D.

Vol 98, Issue 6, Pages 1574-1580.e5



To investigate the impact of maternal aging on the molecular signature of cumulus cells.


Experimental study.


Research laboratory.


Patients, young fertile oocyte donors (n = 40) and infertile women of advanced maternal age (40–45 years; n = 48), donated, with Institutional Review Board consent, cumulus cells during routine infertility treatment.



Main Outcome Measure(s):

Proteomic and gene expression profiles of cumulus cells.


Proteomic analysis identified a total of 1,423 cumulus cell proteins. Statistical analysis revealed 110 (7.7%) proteins to be differentially expressed in relation to female aging (>1.5 fold change). Pathway annotation revealed significant involvement in metabolism (ACAT2, HSD17B4, ALDH9A1, MVK, CYP11A1 and FDFT1), oxidative phosphorylation (NDUFA1, UQCRC1, MT-ATP6, ATP5I, and MT-ATP8) and post transcriptional mechanisms (KHSRP, SFPQ, DDX46, SNRPF, ADAR, NHPL1, and U2AF2) relative to advanced maternal age. Gene expression analysis also revealed altered profiles in cumulus cells from women in their early to mid-40s.


This novel study reveals that the cumulus cell molecular signature, at both the gene and protein level, is impacted by advanced maternal aging. A compromised follicular environment is evident with altered energy metabolism and post-transcriptional processes.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.