In vitro grown human ovarian follicles from cancer patients support oocyte growth

Min Xu, Susan L. Barrett, Erin West-Farrell, Laxmi A. Kondapalli, Sarah E. Kiesewetter, Lonnie D. Shea, Teresa K. Woodruff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

220 Scopus citations


BACKGROUNDYoung female adult and adolescent cancer patients facing life-preserving but fertility-threatening chemo- or radiation-therapy are increasingly seeking options to protect their reproductive potential. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation with transplantation is a promising technique to safeguard fertility in cancer patients. However, this method may risk re-introduction of the original cancer to the survivor of the disease. Thus, developing a method for in vitro growth of immature follicles may provide a method for fertility restoration in the future.METHODSHuman secondary follicles were isolated from ovarian tissues obtained from cancer patients and grown in vitro within a bio-engineered culture system for 30 days.RESULTSHuman ovarian follicles became steroidogenically active, and developed from the early secondary to antral stage in vitro. The follicles contained healthy, growing oocytes that were connected by transzonal projections between the somatic cells and oocyte.CONCLUSIONSOur data support the notion that human follicle development can be achieved in vitro in a bio-engineered culture system. More studies are required to investigate whether the fully sized oocytes obtained from in vitro grown follicle are competent to resume meiosis and be fertilized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2531-2540
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Human
  • In vitro growth
  • Oocyte
  • Ovarian follicle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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