Oct-4 is highly expressed in stem/ progenitor cells and in primordial follicles of the fetal human ovary

Flaviana Cau, Daniela Fanni, Clara Gerosa, Maria Carolina Botta, Flaminia Bardanzellu, Sara Aversa, Ester Sorrentino, Francesco Ronchi, Cristiana Bellan, Gavino Faa, Massimo Castagnola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oct-4 (Octamer-binding transcription factor 4) is a member of the POU (Pit-Oct-Unc) family. During development, Oct-4 is expressed in embryonic stem cells and in germ cell precursors. In this study, we investigated the expression of Oct-4 in the ovaries of human fetuses during gestation. The ovaries of 14 human fetuses and newborns, ranging in gestational age from 12 up to 38 weeks of gestation, were formalin-fixed, routinely processed and paraffin-embedded. Paraffin sections were immunostained with an anti-Oct-4 commercial antibody. Oct-4 expression was demonstrated in all the ovaries analyzed. Immunoreactivity for Oct-4 was detected in multiple stem/progenitor cells, including oogonia. Moreover, Oct-4 was expressed in oocytes, in primordial follicles. In ovarian stem/progenitor cells, Oct-4 was expressed in the nucleus, whereas in oocytes reactivity for Oct-4 was restricted to the cytoplasm. In the initial stages of gestation, the majority of Oct-4-positive precursor cells were detected in the external cortex. These preliminary data indicate Oct-4 as a major player in germ cell differentiation in the human ovary and as a useful marker for ovarian stem/progenitor cells. Given the ability of Oct-4 for the detection of ovarian stem/progenitor cells, further studies are needed in order to verify its ability to detect stem cells in adult ovaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric and Neonatal Individualized Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • development
  • fetal ovary
  • immunohistochemistry
  • Oct-4
  • ovarian stem cells
  • primordial follicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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