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Hum Reprod. 2008 May;23(5):1151-8. doi: 10.1093/humrep/den070. Epub 2008 Mar 6.

A two-step serum-free culture system supports development of human oocytes from primordial follicles in the presence of activin.

Author information

1
Institute of Cell Biology, The Darwin Building, University of Edinburgh, The King's Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, UK. evelyn.telfer@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The objective of this study was to determine whether follicles grown within human ovarian cortical strip culture for 6 days in serum-free medium could be isolated at the secondary stage of pre-antral development and grown in vitro to the late pre-antral/early antral stage during a 4 day culture period.

METHODS:

Ovarian cortical biopsies were obtained from six women aged 26-40 years, with informed consent, during elective Caesarean section. Small tissue slices of ovarian cortex, with underlying stromal tissue removed, were cultured in serum-free medium for 6 days and at the end of this period pre-antral (secondary) follicles were dissected from the strips. Seventy-four intact pre-antral follicles ranging in size (66-132 microm) (mean size 100 microm +/- 3.4) were selected for further culture. Follicles were placed individually within V-shaped microwell culture plates in serum-free medium in the presence (n = 38) or absence (n = 36) of 100 ng/ml of human recombinant activin A.

RESULTS:

Pre-antral follicles grown for 4 days in the presence of activin A grew to a larger size (mean diameter 143 microm +/- 7.4) than those grown in control medium (mean diameter 111 microm +/- 8) (P < 0.005). Ninety percent of follicles cultured in the presence of activin A increased in size during the first 2 days of culture compared with only 36% of follicles in control medium (P > 0.005). Of the follicles surviving the entire culture period, 30% of those cultured in the presence of activin A showed normal morphology with intact oocytes and antral formation. None of the follicles grown in control medium developed antral cavities and >90% of those follicles collected at the end of the culture period showed signs of oocyte degeneration.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results reported here demonstrate that under certain conditions, it is possible to achieve accelerated oocyte/follicle development from human primordial/primary follicles. This provides the first encouraging step towards achieving full in vitro growth of human oocytes.

PMID:
18326514
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/den070
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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