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PPAR Research
Volume 2008 (2008), Article ID 732303, 7 pages
Review Article

The Role of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors in the Development and Physiology of Gametes and Preimplantation Embryos

Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, 6431 Fannin Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Received 22 August 2007; Accepted 4 December 2007

Academic Editor: Pascal Froment

Copyright © 2008 Jaou-Chen Huang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In several species, a family of nuclear receptors, the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) composed of three isotypes, is expressed in somatic cells and germ cells of the ovary as well as the testis. Invalidation of these receptors in mice or stimulation of these receptors in vivo or in vitro showed that each receptor has physiological roles in the gamete maturation or the embryo development. In addition, synthetic PPAR ligands are recently used to induce ovulation in women with polycystic ovary disease. These results reveal the positive actions of PPAR in reproduction. On the other hand, xenobiotics molecules (in herbicides, plasticizers, or components of personal care products), capable of activating PPAR, may disrupt normal PPAR functions in the ovary or the testis and have consequences on the quality of the gametes and the embryos. Despite the recent data obtained on the biological actions of PPARs in reproduction, relatively little is known about PPARs in gametes and embryos. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the expression and the function of PPARs as well as their partners, retinoid X receptors (RXRs), in germ cells and preimplantation embryos. The effects of natural and synthetic PPAR ligands will also be discussed from the perspectives of reproductive toxicology and assisted reproductive technology.