Can peri-ovulatory putrescine supplementation improve egg quality in older infertile women?

Yong Tao, Alina Tartia, Maralee Lawson, Mary B. Zelinski, Wei Wu, Jia Yin Liu, Johan Smitz, Marie Claude Léveillé, Arthur Leader, Hongmei Wang, Timothy Ramsay, X. Johné Liu

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    9 Scopus citations


    The aging-related decline in fertility is an increasingly pressing medical and economic issue in modern society where women are delaying family building. Increasingly sophisticated, costly, and often increasingly invasive, assisted reproductive clinical protocols and laboratory technologies (ART) have helped many older women achieve their reproductive goals. Current ART procedures have not been able to address the fundamental problem of oocyte aging, the increased rate of egg aneuploidy, and the decline of developmental potential of the eggs. Oocyte maturation, which is triggered by luteinizing hormone (LH) in vivo or by injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic, is the critical stage at which the majority of egg aneuploidies arise and when much of an egg’s developmental potential is established. Our proposed strategy focuses on improving egg quality in older women by restoring a robust oocyte maturation process. We have identified putrescine deficiency as one of the causes of poor egg quality in an aged mouse model. Putrescine is a biogenic polyamine naturally produced in peri-ovulatory ovaries. Peri-ovulatory putrescine supplementation has reduced egg aneuploidy, improved embryo quality, and reduced miscarriage rates in aged mice. In this paper, we review the literature on putrescine, its occurrence and physiology in living organisms, and its unique role in oocyte maturation. Preliminary human data demonstrates that there is a maternal aging-related deficiency in ovarian ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the enzyme responsible for putrescine production. We argue that peri-ovulatory putrescine supplementation holds great promise as a natural and effective therapy for infertility in women of advanced maternal age, applicable in natural conception and in combination with current ART therapies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)395-402
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Mar 15 2019


    • Aging
    • Aneuploidy
    • Embryo development
    • Infertility
    • Oocyte maturation
    • Ornithine decarboxylase
    • Putrescine

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Reproductive Medicine
    • Genetics
    • Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • Developmental Biology
    • Genetics(clinical)


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