Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists have an anti-apoptotic effect on cumulus cells: International Journal of Molecular Sciences

P. Scaruffi, S. Stigliani, B. Cardinali, C. Massarotti, M. Lambertini, F. Sozzi, C. Dellepiane, D.F. Merlo, P. Anserini, L. 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. © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6045
JournalInt. J. Mol. Sci.
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Nov 30 2019


  • Apoptosis
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • GnRH agonist
  • Human cumulus cell-oocyte complexes
  • Oocytes


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