Supplemented ?MEM/F12-based medium enables the survival and growth of primary ovarian follicles encapsulated in alginate hydrogels.
ABSTRACT: Hydrogel-encapsulating culture systems for ovarian follicles support the in vitro growth of secondary follicles from various species including mouse, non-primate human, and human; however, the growth of early stage follicles (primary and primordial) has been limited. While encapsulation maintains the structure of early stage follicles, feeder cell populations, such as mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), are required to stimulate growth and development. Hence, in this report, we investigated feeder-free culture environments for early stage follicle development. Mouse ovarian follicles were encapsulated within alginate hydrogels and cultured in various growth medium formulations. Initial studies employed embryonic stem cell medium formulations as a tool to identify factors that influence the survival, growth, and meiotic competence of early stage follicles. The medium formulation that maximized survival and growth was identified as ?MEM/F12 supplemented with fetuin, insulin, transferrin, selenium, and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This medium stimulated the growth of late primary (average initial diameter of 80 µm) and early secondary (average initial diameter of 90 µm) follicles, which developed antral cavities and increased to terminal diameters exceeding 300 µm in 14 days. Survival ranged from 18% for 80 µm follicles to 36% for 90 µm follicles. Furthermore, 80% of the oocytes from surviving follicles with an initial diameter of 90-100 µm underwent germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), and the percentage of metaphase II (MII) eggs was 50%. Follicle/oocyte growth and GVBD/MII rates were not significantly different from MEF co-culture. Survival was reduced relative to MEF co-culture, yet substantially increased relative to the control medium that had been previously used for secondary follicles. Continued development of culture medium could enable mechanistic studies of early stage folliculogenesis and emerging strategies for fertility preservation.
Project description:Hydrogel-encapsulating culture systems support the consistent growth of ovarian follicles from various species, such as mouse, non-human primate, and human; however, further innovations are required for the efficient production of quality oocytes from early-stage follicles. In this report, we investigated the coculture of mouse ovarian follicles with mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), commonly used as feeder cells to promote the undifferentiated growth of embryonic stem (ES) cells, as a means to provide the critical paracrine factors necessary for follicle survival and growth. Follicles were encapsulated within alginate hydrogels and cocultured with MEFs for 14 days. Coculture enabled the survival and growth of early secondary (average diameter of 90-100??m) and primary (average diameter of 70-80??m) follicles, which developed antral cavities and increased in diameter to 251-347??m. After 14 days, follicle survival ranged from 70% for 100-?m follicles to 23% for 70-?m follicles. Without MEF coculture, all follicles degenerated within 6-10 days. Furthermore, 72%-80% of the oocytes from surviving follicles underwent germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), and the percentage of metaphase II (MII) eggs was 41%-69%. Medium conditioned by MEFs had similar effects on survival, growth, and meiotic competence, suggesting a unidirectional paracrine signaling mechanism. This advancement may facilitate the identification of critical factors responsible for promoting the growth of early-stage follicles and lead to novel strategies for fertility preservation.
Project description:The in vitro growth of ovarian follicles is an emerging technology for fertility preservation. Various strategies support the culture of secondary and multilayer follicles from various species including mice, non-human primate, and human; however, the culture of early stage (primary and primordial) follicles, which are more abundant in the ovary and survive cryopreservation, has been limited. Hydrogel-encapsulating follicle culture systems that employed feeder cells, such as mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), stimulated the growth of primary follicles (70-80 µm); yet, survival was low and smaller follicles (<70 µm) rapidly lost structure and degenerated. These morphologic changes were associated with a breakdown of the follicular basement membrane; hence, this study investigated ascorbic acid based on its role in extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition/remodeling for other applications. The selection of ascorbic acid was further supported by a microarray analysis that suggested a decrease in mRNA levels of enzymes within the ascorbate pathway between primordial, primary, and secondary follicles. The supplementation of ascorbic acid (50 µg/mL) significantly enhanced the survival of primary follicles (<80 µm) cultured in alginate hydrogels, which coincided with improved structural integrity. Follicles developed antral cavities and increased to diameters exceeding 250 µm. Consistent with improved structural integrity, the gene/protein expression of ECM and cell adhesion molecules was significantly changed. This research supports the notion that modifying the culture environment (medium components) can substantially enhance the survival and growth of early stage follicles.
Project description:We tested the hypothesis that meiotic competence of dog oocytes is tightly linked with donor follicle size and energy metabolism. Oocytes were recovered from small (<1?mm diameter, n?=?327), medium (1-<2?mm, n?=?292) or large (?2?mm, n?=?102) follicles, cultured for 0, 24, or 48?hr, and then assessed for glycolysis, glucose oxidation, pyruvate uptake, glutamine oxidation, and nuclear status. More oocytes (P?<?0.05) from large follicles (37%) reached the metaphase-II (MII) stage than from the small group (11%), with the medium-sized class being intermediate (18%; P?>?0.05). Glycolytic rate increased (P?<?0.05) as oocytes progressed from the germinal vesicle (GV) to MII stage. After 48?hr of culture, oocytes completing nuclear maturation had higher (P?<?0.05) glycolytic rates than those arrested at earlier stages. GV oocytes recovered from large follicle oocytes had higher (P?<?0.05) metabolism than those from smaller counterparts at culture onset. MII oocytes from large follicles oxidized more (P?<?0.05) glutamine than the same stage gametes recovered from smaller counterparts. In summary, larger-sized dog follicles contain a more metabolically active oocyte with a greater chance of achieving nuclear maturation in vitro. These findings demonstrate a significant role for energy metabolism in promoting dog oocyte maturation, information that will be useful for improving culture systems for rescuing intraovarian genetic material.
Project description:Encapsulated in vitro follicle growth (eIVFG) has great potential to provide an additional fertility preservation option for young women and girls with cancer or other reproductive health threatening diseases. Currently, follicles are cultured for a defined period of time and analyzed as a cohort. However, follicle growth is not synchronous, and culturing follicles for insufficient or excessive times can result in compromised gamete quality. Our objective is to determine whether the selection of follicles based on size, rather than absolute culture time, better predict follicle maturity and oocyte quality. Multilayer secondary mouse follicles were isolated and encapsulated in 0.25% alginate. Follicles were cultured individually either for defined time periods or up to specific follicle diameter ranges, at which point several reproductive endpoints were analyzed. The metaphase II (MII) percentage after oocyte maturation on day 6 was the highest (85%) when follicles were cultured for specific days. However, if follicles were cultured to a terminal diameter of 300-350 ?m irrespective of absolute time in culture, 93% of the oocytes reached MII. More than 90% of MII oocytes matured from follicles with diameters of 300-350 ?m showed normal spindle morphology and chromosome alignment, 85% of oocytes showed two pronuclei after IVF, 81% developed into the two-cell embryo stage and 38% developed to the blastocyst stage, all significantly higher than the percentages in the other follicle size groups. Our study demonstrates that size-specific follicle selection can be used as a non-invasive marker to identify high-quality oocytes and improve reproductive outcomes during eIVFG.
Project description:In the present study, we established an in vitro culture system suitable for generating fertilizable oocytes from premeiotic mouse female germ cells. These results were achieved after first establishing an in vitro culture system allowing immature oocytes from 12-14 day-old mice to reach meiotic maturation through culture onto preantral granulosa cell (PAGC) monolayers in the presence of Activin A (ActA). To generate mature oocytes from premeiotic germ cells, pieces of ovaries from 12.5 days post coitum (dpc) embryos were cultured in medium supplemented with ActA for 28 days and the oocytes formed within the explants were isolated and cocultured onto PAGC monolayers in the presence of ActA for 6-7 days. The oocytes were then subjected to a final meiotic maturation assay to evaluate their capability to undergo germinal vesicle break down (GVBD) and reach the metaphase II (MII) stage. We found that during the first 28 days of culture, a significant number of oocytes within the ovarian explants reached nearly full growth and formed preantral follicle-like structures with the surrounding somatic cells. GSH level and Cx37 expression in the oocytes within the explants were indicative of proper developmental conditions. Moreover, the imprinting of Igf2r and Peg3 genes in these oocytes was correctly established. Further culture onto PAGCs in the presence of ActA allowed about 16% of the oocytes to undergo GVBD, among which 17% reached the MII stage during the final 16-18 hr maturation culture. These MII oocytes showed normal spindle and chromosome assembly and a correct ERK1/2 activity. About 35% of the in vitro matured oocytes were fertilized and 53.44% of them were able to reach the 2-cell stage. Finally, around 7% of the 2-cell embryos developed to the morula/blastocyst stage.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To study whether follicular growth and oocyte maturation can be improved by antimüllerian hormone (AMH) modulation at specific stages of follicular development. DESIGN:Primary and secondary follicles were cultured in a matrix-free system and were assigned to the control group and the group with AMH supplementation during the preantral stage and neutralizing AMH antibody addition during the antral stage. SETTING:National primate research center. ANIMAL(S):Adult, female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). INTERVENTION(S):None. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):Follicle survival, growth, steroid and paracrine factor production, and oocyte competence were evaluated. Follicles were assessed for expression of genes that are critical for gonadotropin signaling, cumulus cell glycolysis, and oocyte quality. RESULT(S):Primary follicles formed "organoids" and developed to the antral stage in group culture. AMH exposure during the preantral stage increased organoid diameters. Oocytes from the AMH-treated organoids had greater diameters and matured to the metaphase II (MII) stage. Secondary follicles developed to the antral stage during individual culture. The AMH exposure during the preantral stage and AMH antibody treatment during the antral stage increased follicle diameters, vascular endothelial growth factor and follistatin production, differentiation factor 9 expression, and oocyte diameters. The MII oocytes from the AMH-modulated group developed to the morula stage after IVF, with one to the blastocyst stage. CONCLUSION(S):AMH supplementation at the preantral stage and depletion at the antral stage enhanced primate follicular development and oocyte competence in vitro. The improved embryonic development supports in vitro follicle maturation as a potential approach for fertility preservation.
Project description:In vitro follicle growth is a potential approach to preserve fertility for young women who are facing a risk of premature ovarian failure (POF) caused by radiation or chemotherapy. Our two-step follicle culture strategy recapitulated the dynamic human follicle growth environment in vitro. Follicles developed from the preantral to antral stage, and, for the first time, produced meiotically competent metaphase II (MII) oocytes after in vitro maturation (IVM).
Project description:Objective:In the present study, the applicability of hyaluronic acid-alginate (HAA) hydrogel and ovarian cells (OCs) for the culture of mouse ovarian follicles were investigated and compared with those of alginate (ALG) and fibrin-alginate (FA) hydrogels. Materials and Methods:In the first step of this experimental study, mechanically isolated preantral follicles from the ovaries of two-week-old mice were encapsulated in the absence or presence of OCs in ALG, HAA, and FA hydrogels and cultured for 14 days. The morphology, diameter, survival and antrum formation rates of the follicles and the maturation and quality of the oocytes were evaluated during culture. In the second step, preantral follicles were cultured similar to the first step, but for 13 days, and their gene expressions and hormonal secretion were assessed on the last day of culture. Results:In the absence of OCs, higher numbers of ALG- and HAA-encapsulated follicles reached the antral stage compared to FA-encapsulated follicles (P<0.05). However, a higher percentage of HAA-developed oocytes resumed meiosis up to the germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD)/metaphase II (MII) stages in comparison with ALG-developed oocytes (P<0.05). HAA-encapsulated follicles had significant overexpression of most of the growth and differentiation genes, and secreted higher levels of estradiol (E2) compared to ALG- and FA-encapsulated follicles (P<0.05). The co-culture condition increased the diameter of ALG-encapsulated follicles on day 13 of culture (P<0.05). It also increased the survival and maturation rates of ALG- and FA-encapsulated follicles, respectively (P<0.05). The co-culture condition improved cortical granule distribution in all groups, increased E2 and progesterone (P4) secretions in the ALG and FA groups, and androstenedione (A4) secretion in the FA group (P<0.05). Conclusion:The present study results show that HAA hydrogel is a promising hydrogel for follicle culture. OCs utilization could ameliorate the culture conditions regardless of the type of hydrogel.
Project description:Using the domestic cat as a non-rodent, larger animal model, the objective was to determine the impact of a brief incubation in a hypertonic microenvironment on (1) ovarian follicle and oocyte growth in vitro, (2) developmental capacity of the resident oocyte, and (3) expression of aquaporin (AQP) genes in parallel with genes involved in regulation of folliculogenesis. In Study 1: Secondary or early antral follicles encapsulated in 0.5% alginate were allocated to one of three treatment groups: 1) culture in standard medium at 290 mOsm for 15 d (Control); 2) incubation in 350 mOsm medium for 1 h followed by culture in standard medium for 15 d (Hypertonic-1h); or 3) incubation in 350 mOsm medium for 24 h followed by incubation in standard medium for additional 14 d (Hypertonic-24h). After measuring follicle and oocyte diameters on Day 15, in vitro-grown oocytes were incubated for 24 h before assessing nuclear status. In Study 2: secondary or early antral follicles were subjected to one of the three treatments: 1) culture in standard medium at 290 mOsm for 48 h; 2) incubation in 350 mOsm medium for 1 h followed by culture in standard medium for additional 47 h; or 3) incubation in 350 mOsm medium for 24 h followed by culture in standard medium for additional 24 h. At the end of the culture period, all follicles were assessed for mRNA level of Cyp17a1, Cyp19a1, Star, Aqp1, 3, 5, 7 and 8 as well as Fshr using qPCR. Freshly collected follicles also were subjected to gene expression analysis and served as the 'Non-cultured control'. Hypertonic-24h follicles grew larger (P < 0.05) than the control, whereas those in Hypertonic-1h group exhibited intermediate growth, especially when the culture started at the early antral stage. Oocytes in the Hypertonic-24h group were larger and resumed meiosis at a higher rate than in the other treatments. In vitro culture affected (P < 0.05) mRNA expression of Cyp19a1, Star, Aqp1, and Aqp7 in both the secondary and early antral stage while Fshr was only affected in the former compared to the non-cultured control. Pre-incubating follicles in 350 mOsm medium for 24 h enhanced (P < 0.05) Star and Aqp7 while decreasing (P < 0.05) Aqp1 expression compared to the control in secondary follicles, but not in the early antral stage. In summary, short-term hypertonic exposure promoted cat follicle development in vitro (including the meiotic competence of the enclosed oocyte) possibly through a mechanism that does not involve water transport genes.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Activin and inhibin are glycoproteins structurally related to the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily. These peptides were first described as factors that regulate the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) at the pituitary level. The possible role of inhibin and activin, at the ovarian level, in mediating the stimulatory actions of a Fundulus pituitary extract (FPE) and 17alpha,20beta-dihydroprogesterone (DHP) on oocyte maturation was investigated in this study. METHODS:In vitro culture of ovarian follicles and induction of oocyte maturation were carried out in 75% Leibovitz L-15 medium. Follicles or denuded oocytes were exposed to FPE, inhibin, activin, ethanol vehicle (control group), or DHP. The competence of the follicles or denuded oocytes to respond to the hormones was assessed by scoring germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) used as an indication of the reinitiation of meiosis or oocyte maturation. DHP level was measured by radioimmunoassay. RESULTS:Addition of FPE promoted the synthesis of DHP by the granulose cells of fully grown ovarian follicles and thus stimulated GVBD in the oocyte. Presence of porcine inhibin did not hinder the synthesis of DHP stimulated by FPE, although it did inhibit the subsequent GVBD in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting that the action of inhibin was at the oocyte level. Similarly to the findings with FPE, inhibin also blocked the DHP-induced GVBD in intact follicles, as well as the spontaneous and steroid-induced GVBD of denuded oocyte. Inhibin straightforwardly blocked the response to a low dose of DHP throughout the culture period, while higher doses of the steroid appeared to overcome the inhibitory effect especially at later times. In contrast to inhibin, recombinant human activin A significantly enhanced DHP-induced GVBD in a dose-dependent manner after 48 hr, although activin alone was not able to induce GVBD without the presence of the steroid. CONCLUSION:Taking together with our previous studies that demonstrate the presence of activin/inhibin subunits in the ovary of F. heteroclitus, these in vitro findings indicate that inhibin and activin are local regulators in the teleost ovary and have opposing effects in modulating oocyte maturation.