Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonists Have an Anti-apoptotic Effect on Cumulus Cells

Paola Scaruffi, Sara Stigliani, Barbara Cardinali, Claudia Massarotti, Matteo Lambertini, Fausta Sozzi, Chiara Dellepiane, Domenico Franco Merlo, Paola Anserini, Lucia Del Mastro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Ovaries are sensitive to chemotherapy, which may lead to early depletion of primordial follicle reserve. One strategy for gonadal function preservation is temporary ovarian suppression with Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone agonists (GnRHa) during chemotherapy. To date, GnRHa protective mechanism of action remains not fully elucidated. METHODS: We collected 260 immature cumulus cell-oocyte complexes (COC) from 111 women < 38 years old, with a normal ovarian reserve. The COC were randomly assigned to the following groups: a) control; culture with the addition of b) GnRHa; c) cyclophosphamide; d) cyclophosphamide plus GnRHa. After in vitro treatments, RNA and proteins were extracted from oocytes and cumulus cells (CC), separately. Potential effects of drugs were evaluated on GnRH receptors, apoptosis pathways, ceramide pathway, and glutathione synthesis by quantitative PCR and, whenever possible, by Western blot. RESULTS: Cyclophosphamide triggered activation of the extrinsic pathway of apoptosis mediated by BAX in CC. The co-administration of GnRHa inhibited the apoptosis pathway in CC. According to our model, the GnRHa does not directly act on oocytes, which do not express GnRH receptors. Moreover, glutathione synthesis was decreased after GnRHa treatment both in CC and oocytes. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that the protective mechanisms induced by GnRHa is mediated by an anti-apoptotic effect on CC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Nov 30 2019


  • apoptosis
  • cyclophosphamide
  • GnRH agonist
  • human cumulus cell-oocyte complexes
  • oocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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