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J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2018 Apr;12(4):e1926-e1935. doi: 10.1002/term.2623. Epub 2018 Feb 6.

Evaluation of an ovary-on-a-chip in large mammalian models: Species specificity and influence of follicle isolation status.

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Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA, USA.
Bio-Acoustic-MEMS in Medicine (BAMM) Laboratories, Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection, Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
Department of Electrical Engineering (by courtesy), Stanford University School of Engineering, Palo Alto, CA, USA.


The ability to grow oocytes from immature ovarian follicles in vitro has significant potential for fertility preservation; yet, it has proved challenging in large mammalian species due to the complex metabolic needs and long-term culture requirements. Currently, follicular incubations are based on a "static" system with manual exchange of medium. Despite the numerous advantages of conventional culturing approaches, recapitulating the native microenvironment and supporting the survival of ovarian follicles from large mammalian species still represent challenges. In this study, we utilized an innovative, dynamic microfluidic system to support the in vitro survival of domestic cat and dog follicles enclosed within the ovarian cortex or isolated from ovarian cortex. Results indicate both species-specific and tissue type-specific differences in response to microfluidic culture. Domestic cat but not dog ovarian cortical tissues maintained viability under flow similar to conventional agarose gel controls. Preantral stage isolated follicles from both species that grew most favourably in conventional alginate bead culture, but overall, there was no influence of culture system on expression of follicle development or oocyte health markers. This system represents an important exploration toward the development of an improved ovarian in vitro culture system of large mammalian species (e.g., cats and dogs), which has potential applications for fertility preservation, reproductive toxicology, and endangered mammal conservation efforts.

[Available on 2019-04-01]

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