Ovarian follicle culture advances and challenges for human and nonhuman primates

Recent progress in developing human and nonhuman primate follicle culture systems with the goal of obtaining competent oocytes is reviewed, and prospects for clinical application for fertility preservation are discussed.

Evelyn E. Telfer, Ph.D., F.S.B., Mary B. Zelinski, Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 6, Pages 1523-1533, May 2013


The removal and cryo-storage of ovarian cortical biopsies is now offered as a fertility preservation option for young women. The only available option to restore fertility using this tissue is by transplantation which may not be a viable option for all patients. The full potential of this tissue to restore fertility could be achieved by the development of in vitro systems that support oocyte development from the most immature stages to maturation. The techniques of in vitro growth (IVG) combined with in vitro maturation (IVM) are being developed in human but comparing different systems has been difficult because of the scarcity of tissue and non-human primates are being used as model systems. There are many challenges to developing a complete culture system that will support human oocyte development and this review outlines the approaches being taken by several groups to support each of the stages of oocyte development using tissue from women and non-human primate models.

  • Weon-Young Son

    There are several theoretical advantages of in-vitro ovarian follicle culture obtained from ovarian tissue that hopefully will translate to future clinical applications. However, as the authors have mentioned, currently it remains unclear if these culture systems will ever reach practical implementation. While there are numerous successful live births
    reported after ovarian transplantation in fertility preservation efforts, to the best of my knowledge there is yet to be a successful case using immature oocytes obtained from antral follicles for fertility preservation. In the current clinical situation, I believe it to be more urgent to focus fertility preservation research on effective in-vitro maturation/cryopreservation techniques to allow oocytes from antral follicles in unstimulated ovaries to develop into viable embryos. Although ovarian follicle culture is an interesting and important aspect of fertility preservation research, it may be more practical and effective to concentrate funds and clinical science labor towards applying immature oocyte maturation/cryopreservation techniques to women desiring fertility in whom ovarian stimulation is contraindicated.

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