The transcriptome of corona radiata cells from individual MII oocytes that after ICSI developed to embryos selected for transfer: PCOS women compared to healthy women

Marie Louise Wissing, Si Brask Sonne, David Westergaard, Khoa Nguyen Do, Kirstine C. Belling, Thomas Høst, Anne Lis Mikkelsen

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    Corona radiata cells (CRCs) refer to the fraction of cumulus cells just adjacent to the oocyte. The CRCs are closely connected to the oocyte throughout maturation and their gene expression profiles might reflect oocyte quality. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of infertility. It is controversial whether PCOS associate with diminished oocyte quality. The purpose of this study was to compare individual human CRC samples between PCOS patients and controls.
    All patients were stimulated by the long gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist protocol. The CRC samples originated from individual oocytes developing into embryos selected for transfer. CRCs were isolated in a two-step denudation procedure, separating outer cumulus cells from the inner CRCs. Extracted RNA was amplified and transcriptome profiling was performed with Human Agilent® arrays.
    The transcriptomes of CRCs showed no individual genes with significant differential expression between PCOS and controls, but gene set enrichment analysis identified several cell cycle- and DNA replication pathways overexpressed in PCOS CRCs (FDR < 0.05). Five of the genes contributing to the up-regulated cell cycle pathways in the PCOS CRCs were selected for qRT-PCR validation in ten PCOS and ten control CRC samples. qRT-PCR confirmed significant up-regulation in PCOS CRCs of cell cycle progression genes HIST1H4C (FC = 2.7), UBE2C (FC = 2.6) and cell cycle related transcription factor E2F4 (FC = 2.5).
    The overexpression of cell cycle-related genes and cell cycle pathways in PCOS CRCs could indicate a disturbed or delayed final maturation and differentiation of the CRCs in response to the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) surge. However, this had no effect on the in vitro development of the corresponding embryos. Future studies are needed to clarify whether the up-regulated cell cycle pathways in PCOS CRCs have any clinical implications.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Ovarian Research
    Issue number110
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


    • Corona radiata cells
    • Transcriptome
    • Gene expression
    • PCOS
    • Oocyte quality


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