Oogenesis pp 307-327 | Cite as

Determinants of Oocyte Quality: Impact on In Vitro Fertilization Failures

  • Catherine M. H. CombellesEmail author
  • Vanesa Y. Rawe


Fertilization failures diminish the number of zygotes available for fertility treatment. When considering the potential etiologies of fertilization failures, oocyte determinants merit careful attention. Multiple oocyte-borne defects may hinder successful fertilization. The list of cellular and molecular components that render an oocyte competent for fertilization is growing, among which are the meiotic spindle and chromosomes, organelles, a calcium response machinery, structural and accessory proteins, a redox state, bioenergetic stores, and signaling or regulatory proteins. Specific instances are presented, along with the timing of when during development the oocyte progressively acquires these elements, which together endow the oocyte with full fertilization potential. Key changes in the fertilization potential of the oocyte occur within the confines of the developing follicle, and under the influence of its components. The developmental transitions that are relevant include: oocyte growth, pre-maturation, maturation, post-maturation; together, these transitions lead up to a window of maximal fertilizability that is followed by post-ovulatory aging. Along with basic studies, a careful evaluation of failed to fertilize oocytes has augmented our understanding of oocyte determinants of fertilization ­success, such as ones involved in cytoskeletal remodeling, sperm aster formation, and pronuclear assembly and dynamics. Identifying the exact cause(s) of fertilization failure can not only facilitate diagnostic efforts but also tailor potential therapies. A mastery of in vivo and in vitro factors influencing the acquisition of fertilization potential is essential to the optimal retrieval and handling of oocytes.


Oocyte quality Fertilization failure Oocyte development IVF ICSI Zygotes Infertility ART Gametes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology DepartmentMiddlebury CollegeMiddleburyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Gametes and Embryo PathologyREPROTECBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.CREAValenciaSpain

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