Prevention of chemotherapy-induced ovarian damage: Possible roles for hormonal and non-hormonal attenuating agents

Hadassa Roness*, Lital Kalich-Philosoph, Dror Meirow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Background: Current options for female fertility preservation in the face of cytotoxic treatments include embryo, oocyte and ovarian tissue cryopreservation. However these methods are limited by the patient age, status or available timeframe before treatment and they necessitate invasive procedures. Agents which can prevent or attenuate the ovotoxic effects of treatment would provide significant advantages over the existing fertility preservation techniques, and would allow patients to retain their natural fertility without the necessity for costly, invasive and risky procedures. Recent studies have contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms involved in cytotoxicity-induced ovarian follicle loss and highlight a number of agents that may be able to prevent or reduce this loss. methods: This paper reviews the relevant literature (research articles published in English up to December 2013) on the mechanisms of cytotoxic- induced ovarian damage and the implications for fertility preservation.We present a comprehensive discussion of the potential agents that have been shown to preserve the ovarian follicle reserve in the face of cytotoxic treatments, including an analysis of their respective advantages and risks, and mechanisms of action. results: Multiple molecular pathways are involved in the cellular response to cytotoxic treatments, and specific cellular reactions depend on variables including the drug class and dose, cell type, and cell stage. A number of agents acting on different elements of these pathways have demonstrated potential for preventing or reducing ovarian follicle loss, although in most cases, the studies are still very preliminary. conclusions: Advances in our understanding of the mechanisms and pathways involved in both cytotoxic ovarian damage and follicle growth and development have opened up new directions for fertility preservation. In order to bring these agents from the lab to the clinic, it will be vital to accurately evaluate the efficacy of each agent and additionally to demonstrate that co-treatment with these agents will not interfere with the anti-cancer activity of the chemotherapy drugs, or produce genetically comprised embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdmu019
Pages (from-to)759-774
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Female fertility
  • Fertility preservation
  • Oocyte quality
  • Ovarian reserve
  • Ovary


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