Chromosome abnormalities in the human oocyte.
Fragouli E., Wells D., Delhanty JD.
Aneuploidy is the most commonly occurring type of chromosome abnormality and the most significant clinically. It arises mostly due to segregation errors taking place during female meiosis and is also closely associated with advancing maternal age. Two main aneuploidy-causing mechanisms have been described: the first involves the non-disjunction of entire chromosomes and can take place during both meiotic divisions, whereas the second involves the premature division of a chromosome into its 2 sister chromatids, followed by their random segregation, upon completion of meiosis I. To elucidate the causal mechanisms of maternally derived aneuploidy and the manner with which they affect the 2 meiotic divisions, a large number of oocytes and their corresponding polar bodies have been examined. Various classical and molecular cytogenetic methods have been employed for this purpose, and valuable data have been obtained. Moreover, research into the gene expression patterns of oocytes according to maturity, maternal age, and chromosome status has provided a unique insight into the complex nature of the biological processes and genetic pathways regulating female meiosis. Findings obtained from the cytogenetic and molecular analysis of oocytes will be reviewed in this article.