J L Tilly

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (163)1052.61 Total impact

  • Eun-Sil Park, Dori C Woods, Jonathan L Tilly
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    ABSTRACT: To test whether bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) directly regulates differentiation of adult mouse ovary-derived oogonial stem cells (OSCs) in vitro. Animal study. Research laboratory. Adult C57BL/6 female mice. After purification from adult ovaries by fluorescence-activated cell sorting, OSCs were cultured without or with BMP4 in the absence or presence of the BMP4 antagonist, Noggin. Rates of in vitro-derived (IVD) oocyte formation and changes in gene expression were assessed. Cultured OSCs expressed BMP receptor (BMPR) 1A (BMPR1A), BMPR1B, and BMPR2, suggesting that BMP signaling can directly affect OSC function. In agreement with this, BMP4 significantly increased the number of IVD oocytes formed by cultured OSCs in a dose-dependent manner, and this response was inhibited in a dose-dependent fashion by cotreatment with Noggin. Exposure of OSCs to BMP4 was associated with rapid phosphorylation of BMPR-regulated Smad1/5/8 proteins, and this response was followed by increased expression of the meiosis initiation factors, stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 (Stra8), muscle-segment homeobox 1 (Msx1), and Msx2. In keeping with the IVD oocyte formation data, the ability of BMP4 to activate Smad1/5/8 signaling and meiotic gene expression in OSCs was abolished by cotreatment with Noggin. Engagement of BMP4-mediated signaling in adult mouse ovary-derived OSCs cultured in vitro drives differentiation of these cells into IVD oocytes through Smad1/5/8 activation and transcriptional up-regulation of key meiosis-initiating genes.
    Fertility and sterility 08/2013; · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Perform gene expression profiling of adult mouse ovary-derived oogonial stem cells (OSCs). Experimental animal study. Research laboratory. Adult C57BL/6 female mice. None. Gene expression profiles were compared between freshly isolated and cultured OSCs, as well as between OSCs and embryonic stem cells (ESCs), fetal primordial germ cells (PGCs), and spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs); OSC yield from ovaries versus meiotic gene activation during the estrous cycle was determined. Freshly isolated OSCs, PGCs, and SSCs exhibited distinct gene expression profiles. Cultured OSCs maintained their germline gene expression pattern but gained expression of pluripotency markers found in PGCs and ESCs. Cultured OSCs also expressed the meiotic marker, stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 (Stra8). In vivo, OSC yield was higher from luteal versus follicular phase ovaries, and this was inversely related to Stra8 expression. Freshly isolated OSCs exhibit a germline gene expression profile that overlaps with, but is distinct from, that of PGCs and SSCs. After in vitro expansion, OSCs activate expression of pluripotency genes found in freshly isolated PGCs. In vivo, OSC numbers in the ovaries fluctuate during the estrous cycle, with the highest numbers noted during the luteal phase. This is followed by activation of Stra8 expression during the follicular phase, which may signify a wave of neo-oogenesis to partially offset follicular loss through atresia and ovulation in the prior cycle.
    Fertility and sterility 07/2013; · 3.97 Impact Factor
  • Jonathan L Tilly, David A Sinclair
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    ABSTRACT: The role of metabolism in ovarian aging is poorly described, despite the fact that ovaries fail earlier than most other organs. Growing interest in ovarian function is being driven by recent evidence that mammalian females routinely generate new oocytes during adult life through the activity of germline stem cells. In this perspective, we overview the female reproductive system as a powerful and clinically relevant model to understand links between aging and metabolism, and we discuss new concepts for how oocytes and their precursor cells might be altered metabolically to sustain or increase ovarian function and fertility in women.
    Cell metabolism 06/2013; 17(6):838-50. · 17.35 Impact Factor
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    Dori C Woods, Jonathan L Tilly
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    ABSTRACT: Accruing evidence indicates that production of new oocytes (oogenesis) and their enclosure by somatic cells (folliculogenesis) are processes not limited to the perinatal period in mammals. Endpoints ranging from oocyte counts to genetic lineage tracing and transplantation experiments support a paradigm shift in reproductive biology involving active renewal of oocyte-containing follicles during postnatal life. The recent purification of mitotically active oocyte progenitor cells, termed female germline stem cells (fGSCs) or oogonial stem cells (OSCs), from mouse and human ovaries opens up new avenues for research into the biology and clinical utility of these cells. Here we detail methods for the isolation of mouse and human OSCs from adult ovarian tissue, cultivation of the cells after purification, and characterization of the cells before and after ex vivo expansion. The latter methods include analysis of germ cell-specific markers and in vitro oogenesis, as well as the use of intraovarian transplantation to test the oocyte-forming potential of OSCs in vivo.
    Nature Protocol 04/2013; 8(5):966-988. · 8.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Differentiating embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can form ovarian follicle-like structures in vitro, consisting of an oocyte-like cell surrounded by somatic cells capable of steroidogenesis. Using a dual-fluorescence reporter system in which mouse ESCs express green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of a germ cell-specific Pou5f1 gene promoter and red fluorescent protein (Discosoma sp red [DsRed]) driven by the granulosa cell-specific Forkhead box L2 (Foxl2) gene promoter, we first confirmed in vitro formation of follicle-like structures containing GFP-positive cells surrounded by DsRed-positive cells. Isolated DsRed-positive cells specified from ECSs exhibited a gene expression profile consistent with granulosa cells, as revealed by the detection of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) for Foxl2, follistatin (Fst), anti-Müllerian hormone (Amh), and follicle-stimulating hormone receptor (Fshr) as well as by production of both progesterone and estradiol. In addition, treatment of isolated DsRed-expressing cells with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) significantly increased estradiol production over basal levels, confirming the presence of functional FSH receptors in these cells. Last, ESC-derived DsRed-positive cells injected into neonatal mouse ovaries became incorporated within the granulosa cell layer of immature follicles. These studies demonstrate that Foxl2-expressing ovarian somatic cells derived in vitro from differentiating ESCs express granulosa cell markers, actively associate with germ cells in vitro, synthesize steroids, respond to FSH, and participate in folliculogenesis in vivo.
    Reproductive sciences (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) 03/2013; · 2.31 Impact Factor
  • Dori C Woods, Jonathan L Tilly
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    ABSTRACT: The concept that oogenesis continues into reproductive life has been well established in nonmammalian species. Recent studies of mice and women indicate that oocyte formation is also not, as traditionally believed, restricted to the fetal or perinatal periods. Analogous to de novo oocyte formation in flies and fish, newly formed oocytes in adult mammalian ovaries arise from germline stem cells (GSCs) or, more specifically, oogonial stem cells (OSCs). Studies of mice have confirmed that isolated OSCs, once delivered back into adult ovaries, are capable of generating fully functional eggs that fertilize to produce healthy embryos and offspring. Parallel studies of OSCs recently purified from ovaries of reproductive-age women indicate that these cells closely resemble their mouse ovary-derived counterparts, although the fertilization competency of oocytes generated by human OSCs awaits clarification. Despite the ability of OSCs to produce new oocytes during adulthood, oogenesis will still ultimately cease with age, contributing to ovarian failure. The causal mechanisms behind these events in mammals are unknown, but studies of flies have revealed that GSC niche dysfunction plays a critical role in age-related oogenic failure. Such insights derived from evaluation of nonmammalian species, in which postnatal oogenesis has been studied in depth, may aid in development of new strategies to alleviate ovarian failure and infertility in mammals.
    Seminars in Reproductive Medicine 01/2013; 31(1):24-32. · 3.21 Impact Factor
  • Dori C Woods, Yvonne A R White, Jonathan L Tilly
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    ABSTRACT: Contemporary claims that mitotically active female germ line or oogonial stem cells (OSCs) exist and support oogenesis during postnatal life in mammals have been debated in the field of reproductive biology since March 2004, when a mouse study posed the first serious challenge to the dogma of a fixed pool of oocytes being endowed at birth in more than 50 years. Other studies have since been put forth that further question the validity of this dogma, including the isolation of OSCs from neonatal and adult mouse ovaries by 4 independent groups using multiple strategies. Two of these groups also reported that isolated mouse OSCs, once transplanted back into ovaries of adult female mice, differentiate into fully functional eggs that ovulate, fertilize, and produce healthy embryos and offspring. Arguably, one of the most significant advances in this emerging field was provided by a new research study published this year, which reported the successful isolation and functional characterization of OSCs from ovaries of reproductive age women. Two commentaries on this latest work, one cautiously supportive and one highly skeptical, were published soon afterward. This article evaluates the current literature regarding postnatal oogenesis in mammals and discusses important next steps for future work on OSC biology and function.
    Reproductive sciences (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) 09/2012; · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women approaching advanced maternal age have extremely poor outcomes with both natural and assisted fertility. Moreover, the incidence of chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects increases with age. As of yet, there is no effective and practical strategy for delaying ovarian aging or improving oocyte quality. We demonstrate that the lifelong consumption of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids prolongs murine reproductive function into advanced maternal age, while a diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids is associated with very poor reproductive success at advanced maternal age. Furthermore, even short-term dietary treatment with a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids initiated at the time of the normal age-related rapid decline in murine reproductive function is associated with improved oocyte quality, while short-term dietary treatment with omega-6 fatty acids results in very poor oocyte quality. Thus, omega-3 fatty acids may provide an effective and practical avenue for delaying ovarian aging and improving oocyte quality at advanced maternal age.
    Aging cell 09/2012; · 7.55 Impact Factor
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    Dori C Woods, Evelyn E Telfer, Jonathan L Tilly
    PLoS Genetics 07/2012; 8(7):e1002848. · 8.52 Impact Factor
  • Dori C Woods, Jonathan L Tilly
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cell-based strategies for ovarian regeneration and oocyte production have been proposed as future clinical therapies for treating infertility in women. However, utilization of embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells to produce oocytes has had limited success in vitro. A recent report of the isolation and characterization of endogenous oocyte-producing or oogonial stem cells (OSCs) from ovaries of reproductive age women describes the first stable and pure human female germ cell culture model in which a subset of cells appear to initiate and complete meiosis. In addition, purified human OSCs introduced into adult human ovarian cortical tissue generate oocytes that arrest at the diplotene stage of meiosis and successfully recruit granulosa cells to form new primordial follicles. This overview examines the current landscape of in vitro and in vivo gametogenesis from stem cells, with emphasis on generation of human oocytes. Future research objectives for this area of work, as well as potential clinical applications involving the use of human OSCs, are discussed.
    Fertility and sterility 06/2012; 98(1):3-10. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Germline stem cells that produce oocytes in vitro and fertilization-competent eggs in vivo have been identified in and isolated from adult mouse ovaries. Here we describe and validate a fluorescence-activated cell sorting-based protocol that can be used with adult mouse ovaries and human ovarian cortical tissue to purify rare mitotically active cells that have a gene expression profile that is consistent with primitive germ cells. Once established in vitro, these cells can be expanded for months and can spontaneously generate 35- to 50-μm oocytes, as determined by morphology, gene expression and haploid (1n) status. Injection of the human germline cells, engineered to stably express GFP, into human ovarian cortical biopsies leads to formation of follicles containing GFP-positive oocytes 1-2 weeks after xenotransplantation into immunodeficient female mice. Thus, ovaries of reproductive-age women, similar to adult mice, possess rare mitotically active germ cells that can be propagated in vitro as well as generate oocytes in vitro and in vivo.
    Nature medicine 01/2012; 18(3):413-21. · 27.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Increased meiotic spindle abnormalities and aneuploidy in oocytes of women of advanced maternal ages lead to elevated rates of infertility, miscarriage, and trisomic conceptions. Despite the significance of the problem, strategies to sustain oocyte quality with age have remained elusive. Here we report that adult female mice maintained under 40% caloric restriction (CR) did not exhibit aging-related increases in oocyte aneuploidy, chromosomal misalignment on the metaphase plate, meiotic spindle abnormalities, or mitochondrial dysfunction (aggregation, impaired ATP production), all of which occurred in oocytes of age-matched ad libitum-fed controls. The effects of CR on oocyte quality in aging females were reproduced by deletion of the metabolic regulator, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α). Thus, CR during adulthood or loss of PGC-1α function maintains female germline chromosomal stability and its proper segregation during meiosis, such that ovulated oocytes of aged female mice previously maintained on CR or lacking PGC-1α are comparable to those of young females during prime reproductive life.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2011; 108(30):12319-24. · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine whether sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), or the S1P mimetic FTY720 shields ovaries of adult female rhesus monkeys from damage caused by 15 Gy of targeted radiotherapy, allowing for the retention of long-term fertility, and to evaluate whether S1P protects human ovarian tissue (xenografted into mice) from radiation-induced damage. Research animal study. Research laboratory and teaching hospital. Adult female rhesus macaques (8-14 years of age; n = 21) and two women (24 and 27 years of age) undergoing gynecologic surgery for benign reasons, after informed consent and approval. None. Ovarian histologic analysis, ovarian reserve measurements, and fertility in mating trials. Rapid ovarian failure was induced in female macaques by ovarian application of 15 Gy of radiation. Females given S1P or FTY720 by direct intraovarian cannulation for 1 week before ovarian irradiation rapidly resumed menstrual cycles because of maintenance of follicles, with greater beneficial effects achieved using FTY720. Monkeys given the S1P mimetic before ovarian irradiation also became pregnant in mating trials. Offspring conceived and delivered by radioprotected females developed normally and showed no evidence of genomic instability, as measured by micronucleus frequency in reticulocytes. Adult human ovarian cortical tissue xenografted into mice also exhibited a reduction in radiation-induced primordial oocyte depletion when preexposed to S1P. S1P and its analogs hold clinical promise as therapeutic agents to preserve ovarian function and fertility in female cancer patients exposed to cytotoxic treatments.
    Fertility and sterility 02/2011; 95(4):1440-5.e1-7. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine whether granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), stem cell factor (SCF), or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) improve the outcome of ovarian grafting. Experimental animal study. Tertiary care hospital, animal facilities. Young adult (6- to 8-week-old) C57BL/6 female mice. Orthotopic transplantation of the frozen-thawed ovary. Group 1 (n = 6) received VEGF (8 g/kg/day); group 2 (n = 6) received VEGF and G-CSF (50 g/kg/day), group 3 (n = 6) received G-CSF and SCF (100 g/kg/day), and group 4 (n = 5) received saline (vehicle controls). All injections were given once daily for 5 days starting the day after surgery. Ovaries were collected 2 weeks after transplantation. Number of nonatretic immature (primordial, primary, and small preantral) follicles. Transplanted ovaries in mice injected with VEGF concurrently with G-CSF maintained a statistically significantly larger pool of primordial follicles compared with transplanted ovaries in saline-injected controls. Follicle numbers (total immature and primordial) in transplanted ovaries showed no statistically significant difference in mice injected with VEGF alone or G-CSF plus SCF compared with saline-injected controls. After ovarian transplantation, mice treated with VEGF and G-CSF maintain a significantly greater number of primordial follicles compared with the transplanted ovaries in control animals, suggesting that the combination of G-CSF and VEGF minimizes ischemic damage and thus improves the viability and function of the ovarian graft.
    Fertility and sterility 01/2011; 95(4):1405-9. · 3.97 Impact Factor
  • Fertility and Sterility - FERT STERIL. 01/2011; 96(3).
  • Fertility and Sterility - FERT STERIL. 01/2011; 96(3).
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    ABSTRACT: Through the use of parabiosis in mice, aging-related deterioration of skeletal muscle and liver has been linked to a loss of systemic factors that support adult stem or progenitor cell activity. Since aging-related ovarian failure has recently been attributed, at least in part, to a loss of de-novo oocyte-containing follicle formation associated with declining oogonial stem cell activity, herein we tested in mice if aging-related changes in systemic factors influence the size of the ovarian follicle reserve. Ovaries of young (2-month-old) females parabiotically joined with young females for 5 weeks possess comparable numbers of healthy and degenerative (atretic) oocyte-containing follicles in their ovaries as those detected in non-parabiotic young females. Joining of young females with young males significantly increases follicle atresia without a net change healthy follicle numbers. Surprisingly, young females joined with aged (24-month-old) males exhibit a significant increase in the number of primordial follicles comprising the ovarian reserve, and this occurs without changes in follicle growth activation or atresia. Blood of aged males also induces ovarian expression of the germ cell-specific meiosis gene,Stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 (Stra8), in ovaries of female parabionts, further supporting the conclusion that the observed changes in the follicle reserve of females joined with aged males reflect increased oocyte formation. Thus, factors in male blood exert dramatic effects on ovarian follicle dynamics, and aging males possess a beneficial systemic factor that significantly expands the ovarian follicle reserve in females through enhanced oogenesis.
    Aging 12/2010; 2(12):999-1003. · 4.70 Impact Factor
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    Ning Wang, Lankai Guo, Bo R Rueda, Jonathan L Tilly
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    ABSTRACT: The p63 gene product regulates epithelial morphogenesis and female germline integrity. In this study, we show that cyclin-dependent kinase 5 and Abl enzyme substrate 1 (Cables1) interacts with the trans-activating (TA) p63alpha isoform to protect it from proteasomal degradation. Using the female germline of Cables1-null mice as an in vivo model, we demonstrate further that oocytes lacking Cables1 exhibit lower basal levels of TAp63alpha and reduced accumulation of phosphorylated TAp63alpha in response to genotoxic stress. This in turn enhances the survival of these cells after ionizing radiation exposure. Thus, Cables1 modulates p63 protein stability and function during genotoxic stress.
    EMBO Reports 08/2010; 11(8):633-9. · 7.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Editorial Board of Aging reviews research papers published in 2009, which they believe have or will have significant impact on aging research. Among many others, the topics include genes that accelerate aging or in contrast promote longevity in model organisms, DNA damage responses and telomeres, molecular mechanisms of life span extension by calorie restriction and pharmacological interventions into aging. The emerging message in 2009 is that aging is not random but determined by a genetically-regulated longevity network and can be decelerated both genetically and pharmacologically.
    Aging 03/2010; 2(3):111-21. · 4.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To suggest an alternative strategy for deriving histocompatible stems cells without undertaking genetic manipulation. Prospective approach using an animal model. Stem cell and bioevaluation laboratory, Seoul National University. F1 (C57BL6 X DBA2) and outbred (ICR) mice. Ovarian stroma cells of less than 40 mum in diameter were subcultured with fibroblast monolayer, and colony-forming cells were characterized. Stemness, genotype, and imprinted gene methylation. Two-lines of colony-forming cells were established, which expressed markers specific for embryonic stem cells (ESC) and formed embryoid bodies and teratomas. Complete matching of microsatellite markers with the cell donor strain confirmed their establishment from ovarian tissue, and identification of both homozygotic and heterozygotic chromosomes raised the possibility of their derivation from parthenogenetic oocytes. However, the use of cells smaller than mature oocytes for primary culture, the difference in imprinted gene methylation compared with parthenogenetic ESCs, and failure to establish the ESC-like cells by primary follicle culture collectively suggested the irrelevancy to gametes. Coculture of adult ovarian cells with somatic fibroblasts can yield colony-forming cells having ESC-like activity, which may provide an alternative for establishing autologous stem cells from adults that can be obtained without genetic manipulation.
    Fertility and sterility 02/2010; 93(8):2594-601, 2601.e1-9. · 3.97 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

8k Citations
1,052.61 Total Impact Points


  • 1996–2013
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • • Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology
      • • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2011
    • Oregon Health and Science University
      • Division of Reproductive Sciences
      Portland, OR, United States
  • 1995–2004
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • • Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics
      • • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      Baltimore, MD, United States
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Seattle, WA, United States
  • 1999
    • University of Western Australia
      • School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology
      Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  • 1993–1998
    • Stratford University
      Stratford, Connecticut, United States
  • 1996–1997
    • University of Notre Dame
      • Department of Biological Sciences
      Indiana, PA, United States
  • 1993–1994
    • Stanford Medicine
      • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Stanford, California, United States
  • 1991–1992
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • 1988–1992
    • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
      • Department of Animal Sciences
      New Brunswick, NJ, United States