Ovarian follicles of young patients with Turner's syndrome contain normal oocytes but monosomic 45,X granulosa cells

Ronald Peek, Myra Schleedoorn, Dominique Smeets, Guillaume Van De Zande, Freek Groenman, Didi Braat, Janielle Van Der Velden, Kathrin Fleischer

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What is the X chromosomal content of oocytes and granulosa cells of primordial/primary (small) follicles and stromal cells in ovaries of young patients with Turner's syndrome (TS) SUMMARY ANSWER: Small ovarian follicles were detected in one-half of the patients studied, and X chromosome analysis revealed that most oocytes were normal, granulosa cells were largely monosomic, while stromal cells showed a high level of mosaicism. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Most women with TS experience a premature reduction or complete loss of fertility due to an accelerated loss of gametes. To determine whether fertility preservation in this group of patients is feasible, there is a strong need for information on the X chromosomal content of ovarian follicular and stromal cells. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Small follicles (<50 μm) and stromal cells were isolated from ovarian tissue of young TS patients and analysed for their X chromosomal content. In addition to ovarian cells, several other cell types from the same patients were analysed. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: After unilateral ovariectomy, ovarian cortex tissue was obtained from 10 TS patients (aged 2-18 years) with numerical abnormalities of the X chromosome. Ovarian cortex fragments were prepared and cryopreserved. One fragment from each patient was thawed and enzymatically digested to obtain stromal cells and primordial/primary follicles. Stromal cells, granulosa cells and oocytes were analysed by FISH using an X chromosome-specific probe. Extra-ovarian cells (lymphocytes, buccal cells and urine cells) of the same patients were also analysed by FISH. Ovarian tissue used as control was obtained from individuals undergoing oophorectomy as part of their gender affirming surgery. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Ovarian follicles were detected in 5 of the 10 patients studied. A method was developed to determine the X chromosomal content of meiosis I arrested oocytes from small follicles. This revealed that 42 of the 46 oocytes (91%) that were analysed had a normal X chromosomal content. Granulosa cells were largely 45,X but showed different levels of X chromosome mosaicism between patients and between follicles of the same patient. Despite the presence of a low percentage (10-45%) of 46,XX ovarian cortex stromal cells, normal macroscopic ovarian morphology was observed. The level of mosaicism in lymphocytes, buccal cells or urine-derived cells was not predictive for mosaicism in ovarian cells. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: The results are based on a small number (n = 5) of TS patient samples but provide evidence that the majority of oocytes have a normal X chromosomal content and that follicles from the same patient can differ with respect to the level of mosaicism of their granulosa cells. The functional consequences of these observations require further investigation. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The results indicate that despite normal ovarian and follicular morphology, stromal cells and granulosa cells of small follicles in patients with TS may display a high level of mosaicism. Furthermore, the level of mosaicism in ovarian cells cannot be predicted from the analysis of extra-ovarian tissue. These findings should be considered by physicians when offering cryopreservation of ovarian tissue as an option for fertility preservation in young TS patients. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): Unconditional funding was received from Merck B.V. The Netherlands (Number A16-1395) and the foundation 'Radboud Oncologie Fonds' (Number KUN 00007682). The authors have no conflicts of interest. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT03381300.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1686-1696
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2019


  • Turner's syndrome
  • fertility preservation
  • karyotyping
  • mosaicism
  • primary follicles
  • primordial

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