What is the fate of first and second polar bodies formed during the menstrual cycle in human females?

Do they degenerate?

Does any other mammal also produce polar bodies?


1 Answer 1


According to this article polar bodies sometimes apoptose but sometimes are "capable of developing into complex, highly organized structures, or even enabling parthenogenesis". Despite their fate being far less than the oocyte.

It also states they're present not only in other animals, but also some plants.

"In other animals and some plants, polar bodies give rise to vital tissues that protect and nourish the embryo. These apparent “oddities” reveal the diverse mechanisms used during reproductive development and may even allude to the origins of meiotic strategies."

It looks like polar bodies are very important in humans, but not other organisms:

"Polar bodies may, however, give rise to human embryoids if fertilized and twins may even result when one spermatozoa fertilizes the ovum and a second sperm fertilizes its sister polar body (Bieber et al., 1981). No twin pairs resulting from fertilization of the second (haploid) polar body have been reported (Machin, 2009), but clearly polar bodies have cellular and developmental potentials beyond apoptosis, even in humans."

"But in many other organisms, polar bodies are not dispensable. They are not simply waste bins for three-quarters of the genetic material produced during oogenesis, and they do not disappear following meiosis."

  • $\begingroup$ So the second sperm fertilises the first polar body? But wouldn't that require two sperms entering the ovum? Is it practically possible? $\endgroup$ May 3, 2016 at 7:11
  • $\begingroup$ The first polar body is separate from the ovum, so the second sperm would fertilize the first polar body as if it were an egg. Two sperm can enter one ovum though, but the majority don't survive. When they do, the egg needs to split. If it doesn't, it results in something called a mole pregnancy; the offspring will eventually miscarriage unless aborted. $\endgroup$
    – 360ueck
    May 3, 2016 at 7:57

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