• Open Access

Generation of pluripotent stem cells from eggs of aging mice


David L. Keefe, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA. Tel.: +1 813 259 8500; fax: +1 813 259 8593; e-mail: david.keefe@nyumc.org or Lin Liu, e-mail: liutelom@yahoo.com


Oocytes can reprogram genomes to form embryonic stem (ES) cells. Although ES cells largely escape senescence, oocytes themselves do senesce in the ovaries of most mammals. It remains to be determined whether ES cells can be established using eggs from old females, which exhibit reproductive senescence. We attempted to produce pluripotent stem cell lines from artificial activation of eggs (also called pES) from reproductive aged mice, to determine whether maternal aging affects pES cell production and pluripotency. We show that pES cell lines were generated with high efficiency from reproductive aged (old) mice, although parthenogenetic embryos from these mice produced fewer ES clones by initial two passages. Further, pES cell lines generated from old mice showed telomere length, expression of pluripotency molecular markers (Oct4, Nanog, SSEA1), alkaline phosphatase activity, teratoma formation and chimera production similar to young mice. Notably, DNA damage was reduced in pES cells from old mice compared to their progenitor parthenogenetic blastocysts, and did not differ from that of pES cells from young mice. Also, global gene expression differed only minimally between pES cells from young and old mice, in contrast to marked differences in gene expression in eggs from young and old mice. These data demonstrate that eggs from old mice can generate pluripotent stem cells, and suggest that the isolation and in vitro culture of ES cells must select cells with high levels of DNA and telomere integrity, and/or with capacity to repair DNA and telomeres.