Follicle activation is a significant and immediate cause of follicle loss after ovarian tissue transplantation

Zohar Gavish, Itay Spector, Gil Peer, Stefan Schlatt, Joachim Wistuba, Hadassa Roness, Dror Meirow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Purpose: Extensive follicle loss has been demonstrated in ovarian grafts post transplantation, reducing their productivity and lifespan. Several mechanisms for this loss have been proposed, and this study aims to clarify when and how the massive follicle loss associated with transplantation of ovarian tissue graft occurs. An understanding of the mechanisms of follicle loss will pinpoint potential new targets for optimization and improvement of this important fertility preservation technique. Methods: Frozen-thawed marmoset (n = 15), bovine (n = 37), and human (n = 46) ovarian cortical tissue strips were transplanted subcutaneously into immunodeficient castrated male mice for 3 or 7 days. Histological (H&E, Masson’s trichrome) analysis and immunostaining (Ki-67, GDF9, cleaved caspase-3) were conducted to assess transplantation-associated follicle dynamics, with untransplanted frozen-thawed tissue serving as a negative control. Results: Evidence of extensive primordial follicle (PMF) activation and loss was observed already 3 days post transplantation in marmoset, bovine, and human tissue grafts, compared to frozen-thawed untransplanted controls (p OpenSPiltSPi 0.001). No significant additional PMF loss was observed 7 days post transplantation. Recovered grafts of all species showed markedly higher rates of proliferative activity and progression from dormant to growing follicles (Ki-67 and GDF9 staining) as well as higher growing/primordial (GF/PMF) ratio (p OpenSPiltSPi 0.02) and higher collagen levels compared with untransplanted controls. Conclusions: This multi-species study demonstrates that follicle activation plays an important role in transplantation-induced follicle loss, and that it occurs within a very short time frame after grafting. These results underline the need to prevent this activation at the time of transplantation in order to retain the maximal possible follicle reserve and extend graft lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Fertility preservation
  • Follicle activation
  • Ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation


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