Rescue of oocytes from antral follicles of cryopreserved mouse ovaries: competence to undergo maturation, embryogenesis, and development to term

J M Sztein, M J O'Brien, J S Farley, L E Mobraaten, J J Eppig
Human Reproduction 2000, 15 (3): 567-71
Only primordial and primary follicles of frozen-thawed mouse ovaries survive after grafting to the ovarian bursa; large secondary follicles and antral follicles together with the oocytes contained in them degenerate. This study was undertaken to determine whether fully grown oocytes isolated from the antral follicles of frozen-thawed mouse ovaries are viable and can be rescued to undergo maturation, fertilization, and embryo development in vitro. Ovaries were cryopreserved after removal from 22-day-old (C57BL/6J x SJL/J)F(1) mice, with or without prior priming with equine chorionic gonadotrophin, and fresh non-frozen ovaries were used as controls. Only cumulus cell-denuded oocytes were recovered from frozen unprimed ovaries while both cumulus cell-enclosed and denuded oocytes were retrieved from frozen primed ovaries. Oocytes from both groups of frozen-thawed ovaries were able to undergo maturation, fertilization, and development to the blastocyst stage in vitro, though at lower percentages than oocytes from control unfrozen ovaries. Moreover, 19% of 2-cell stage embryos derived from frozen-thawed primed ovaries, compared with 42% of embryos derived from control primed ovaries, developed to term after transfer to pseudopregnant foster mothers (not significantly different). Therefore, fully grown oocytes in antral follicles survive the cryopreservation protocol, as demonstrated by maturation, fertilization and embryo development in vitro, and development to term after embryo transfer.

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