Parthenogenetic Activation: Biology and Applications in the ART Laboratory

A. Paffoni, T. A L Brevini, F. Gandolfi, G. Ragni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parthenogenesis is a reproductive strategy typical of lower species where a female gives birth to offsprings without a paternal contribution. On the contrary, parthenogenesis is not a form of natural reproduction in mammals even if mammalian oocytes, under appropriate stimuli, can undergo to parthenogenetic activation. This review describes the biological mechanisms regulating parthenogenetic activation in mammals and illustrates the fundamental differences between embryos and parthenotes. Ethical, legal and political concerns on the value of human embryos regulate and limit human embryological studies founded on the widespread belief that human embryos should not be created and studied for research purposes only. Based on the differences between parthenotes and embryos the use of parthenogenesis is proposed as an experimental tool to investigate embryo development which may solve many of the ethical concerns associated with the use of human embryos for experimental purposes. Examples of the possible uses of parthenotes in many field of research such as in vitro assays aimed to study some aspects of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), toxicology or stem cell are described and their validity is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-125
Number of pages5
Issue numberSUPPL.2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Embryo
  • Ethical tool
  • Experimental model
  • IVF
  • Parthenogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology


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