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    Significance: Four decades have passed since the first successful human embryo conceived from a fertilization in vitro. Despite all advances, success rates in assisted reproduction techniques still remain unsatisfactory and it is well established that oxidative stress can be one of the major factors causing failure in in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques. Recent Advances: In the past years, researchers have been shown details of the supportive role CCs play along oocyte maturation, development, and fertilization processes. Regarding redox metabolism, it is now evident that the synergism between gamete and somatic CCs is fundamental to further support a healthy embryo, since the oocyte lacks several defense mechanisms that are provided by the CCs. Critical Issues: There are many sources of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the female reproductive tract in vivo that can be exacerbated (or aggravated) by pathological features. While an imbalance between ROS and antioxidants can result in oxidative damage, physiological levels of ROS are essential for oocyte maturation, ovulation, and early embryonic growth where they act as signaling molecules. At the event of an assisted reproduction procedure, the cumulus/oophorus complex is exposed to additional sources of oxidative stress in vitro. The cumulus cells (CCs) play essential roles in protecting the oocytes from oxidative damage. Future Directions: More studies are needed to elucidate redox biology in human CCs and oocyte. Also, randomized controlled trials will identify possible benefits of in vivo or in vitro administration of antioxidants for patients seeking IVF procedure.


    Lucia von Mengden, Fabio Klamt, Johan Smitz. Redox Biology of Human Cumulus Cells: Basic Concepts, Impact on Oocyte Quality, and Potential Clinical Use. Antioxidants & redox signaling. 2020 Mar 10;32(8):522-535

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    PMID: 31861967

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