JOURNAL ARTICLE

Early massive follicle loss and apoptosis in heterotopically grafted newborn mouse ovaries

Jun Liu, Josiane Van der Elst, Rudy Van den Broecke, Marc Dhont
Human Reproduction 2002, 17 (3): 605-11
11870111

BACKGROUND: Ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation can be used to restore fertility to sterile females. A question that warrants further investigation is whether the follicular content is affected by the freeze-thawing and grafting procedure, and if so, to what extent and by what mechanism.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Intact newborn mouse ovaries were allografted under the kidney capsule or were cryopreserved by slow freezing with dimethylsulphoxide as the cryoprotectant prior to grafting. Estrogenic activity of ovariectomized recipient mice, as revealed by vaginal cytology, resumed after 11 days of transplantation. At 14 days after transplantation, ovarian grafts were recovered and processed histologically for follicle number counting. The follicular content of grafts of fresh ovaries was 58% of that from ovaries of age-matched 14 day old mice. In frozen-thawed ovarian grafts, the follicular content was only 9% lower than that of fresh grafted ovaries. Apoptosis of follicular cells was investigated by DNA nick end labelling. We observed a marked increase in the staining of fragmentation of DNA shortly after transplantation (2-12 h) of fresh newborn mouse ovaries.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of the present study indicate that transplantation rather than cryopreservation accounts for the major and early loss of primordial follicles in grafted newborn mouse ovaries.

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