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Fertil Steril. 1998 Jan;69(1):1-7.

Cryopreservation of immature human oocytes and ovarian tissue: an emerging technology?

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, USA.



To review the potential for cryopreserving immature follicles either in situ or after isolation from ovarian stroma and to consider the options for fertility by transplantation or in vitro follicle growth.


The problems of storing embryos and mature (metaphase II) oocytes were considered in light of the needs of patients to protect fertility before undergoing potentially sterilizing therapy for cancer. The evidence from the experimental biology literature showing that immature oocytes (prophase I) in primordial follicles can be cryopreserved successfully and transplanted to produce fertile eggs was reviewed. The review, which was compiled from MEDLINE and other bibliographic databases, is intended to emphasize the practical opportunities for this technology and the need for future research rather than to be a comprehensive treatment of the subject.


The disappointing results obtained with the cryopreservation of oocytes at metaphase II and ethical concerns about embryo storage are giving impetus to the banking of ovarian tissue for patients who require conservation of fertility. The numbers of needy patients are growing as long-term survivorship after high-dose chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation rises. More speculatively, if ovarian tissue banking becomes a proven effective method, young, healthy women may request storage of ovarian biopsy samples to keep their reproductive options open in midlife when oocyte fertility is declining. Although the cryotechnology is not yet perfected, the major question now is how to use the tissue most effectively after thawing. For the present, ovarian tissue cryopreservation is still at the experimental stage, but it holds the promise of valuable applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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