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Himesh Makala, Lavanya Pothana, Surabhi Sonam, Ashwini Malla, and Sandeep Goel

Ectopic autografting of testis tissue is a promising approach for studying testicular development, male germline preservation and restoration of male fertility. In this study, we examined the fate of various testicular cells in adult mouse testes following ectopic autografting at 1, 2, 4 and 8 weeks post grafting. Histological examination showed no evidence of re-establishment of spermatogenesis in autografts, and progressive degeneration of seminiferous tubules was detected. Expression of germ cell-specific proteins such as POU5F1, DAZL, TNP1, TNP2, PRM1 and PRM2 revealed that, although proliferating and differentiating spermatogenic germ cells such as spermatogonia, spermatocytes and spermatids could survive in autografts until 4 weeks, only terminally differentiated germ cells such as sperm persisted in autografts until 8 weeks. The presence of Sertoli and peritubular myoid cells, as indicated by expression of WT1 and ACTA2 proteins, respectively, was evident in the autografts until 8 weeks. Interestingly, seminal vesicle weight and serum testosterone level were restored in autografted mice by 8 weeks post grafting. The expression of Leydig cell-specific proteins such as CYP11A1, HSD3B2 and LHCGR showed revival of Leydig cell (LC) populations in autografts over time since grafting. Elevated expression of PDGFRA, LIF, DHH and NEFH in autografts indicated de novo regeneration of LC populations. Autografted adult testis can be used as a model for investigating Leydig cell regeneration, steroidogenesis and regulation of the intrinsic factors involved in Leydig cell development. The success of this rodent model can have therapeutic applications for adult human males undergoing sterilizing cancer therapy.

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J E Hornick, F E Duncan, L D Shea, and T K Woodruff

In vitro follicle growth in alginate hydrogels is a unique and versatile method for studying ovarian and follicle biology that may also have implications for fertility preservation. Current culture systems support the development of isolated mouse follicles from the secondary stage onward. However, it has been a challenge to grow smaller follicles in vitro due to the dissociation of the oocyte from companion somatic cells. Recent work has demonstrated that coculturing primary follicles with mouse embryonic fibroblasts or ovarian stromal cells supports follicle survival and growth. In this study, we demonstrate that follicles themselves can exert a beneficial coculture effect. When primary follicles were cultured in groups of five or ten (multiple follicle culture), there was increased growth and survival. The multiple follicle culture approach maintained follicle integrity and resulted in the formation of antral stage follicles containing meiotically competent gametes. The growth and survival of primary follicles were highly number dependent, with the most significant enhancement observed when the largest number of follicles was grown together. Our data suggest that the follicle unit is necessary to produce the secreted factors responsible for the supportive effects of multiple follicle culture, as neither denuded oocytes, oocyte-secreted factors, nor granulosa cells alone were sufficient to support early follicle growth in vitro. Therefore, there may be signaling from both the oocyte and the follicle that enhances growth but requires both components in a feedback mechanism. This work is consistent with current in vivo models for follicle growth and thus advances the movement to recapitulate the ovarian environment in vitro.

Free access

Xiaoqian Wang, Sally Catt, Mulyoto Pangestu, and Peter Temple-Smith

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation can be used to preserve fertility for cancer patients. In this study, we assessed the viability and function of ovarian tissue from adult mice that was cryopreserved by solid surface vitrification or traditional slow-cooling using various in vitro and in vivo techniques, including allotransplantation, in vitro oocyte maturation, embryo culture in vitro, blastocyst cryopreservation, embryo transfer, and development. The importance of cumulus cells for oocyte maturation, fertilization, and embryo development was investigated. Graft recovery, follicle survival, and oocyte retrieval was similar in control, vitrified, and slow-cooled groups. High rates of oocyte maturation, cleavage, and blastocyst formation were achieved, with no significant differences between the control, vitrified or slow-cooled ovarian tissue grafts. The presence of cumulus cells was important for oocyte maturation, fertilization, and subsequent development. Cumulus–oocyte complexes with no surrounding cumulus cells (N-COCs) or with an incomplete layer (P-COCs) had significantly lower rates of oocyte maturation and blastocyst formation than cumulus–oocyte complexes with at least one complete layer of cumulus cells (F-COCs; maturation rate: 63, 78 vs 94%; blastocyst rate: 29, 49 vs 80%). Live births were achieved using vitrified blastocysts derived from oocytes taken from vitrified and slow-cooled ovarian tissue heterotypic allografts. Successful production of healthy offspring from these vitrified blastocysts suggests that this technique should be considered as a useful stage to pause in the assisted reproduction pathway. This provides an alternative protocol for restoring fertility and offering cancer patients a better indication of their chances of pregnancy and live birth.

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SD Perreault and AM Cancel

The rat is the preferred species for reproductive toxicity testing. The inclusion of measures of rat sperm quality, such as motility and morphology, into reproductive test protocols often increases the sensitivity of the test to detect effects, and provides the toxicologist and risk assessor with valuable information about the nature of the reproductive toxicity of the test substance. Technical advances in computer-aided sperm analysis have made it possible to evaluate motion characteristics of rat spermatozoa. This technology can provide an objective means of classifying the motion of rat spermatozoa as progressive or non-progressive, as required in test protocols. More specific tests of rat sperm function are being applied for the purpose of evaluating modes and mechanisms of toxicant action. Computer-aided sperm analysis can be used to evaluate sperm motion during cultures that support sperm capacitation and to identify hyperactivated spermatozoa. Under the same culture conditions, acrosome-specific stains can be used to identify effects of toxicants on the acrosome reaction. These approaches, in combination with in vitro fertilization in rats, can pinpoint sperm functional deficits and thereby assist the toxicologist in addressing hypotheses regarding the cellular-molecular bases of toxicant-induced male infertility.

Free access

Xiaoqian Wang, Sally Catt, Mulyoto Pangestu, and Peter Temple-Smith

Cryopreservation of ovarian tissue is an important option for preserving the fertility of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In this study, we examined the viability and function of oocytes derived in vitro from pre-antral follicles as an alternative method for restoring fertility. Pre-antral follicles (specified as secondary follicle with a diameter around 100–130 μm) were mechanically isolated from vitrified-warmed and fresh adult mouse ovarian tissues and cultured for 12 days followed by an ovulation induction protocol at the end of this period to initiate oocyte maturation. Oocytes were then released from these follicles, fertilized in vitro, and cultured to the blastocyst stage and vitrified. After storage in liquid nitrogen for 2 weeks, groups of vitrified blastocysts were warmed and transferred into pseudo-pregnant recipient females. Although most of the isolated mouse pre-antral follicles from fresh (79.4%) and vitrified (75.0%) ovarian tissues survived the 12-day in vitro culture period, significantly fewer mature oocytes developed from vitrified-warmed pre-antral follicles than from the fresh controls (62.2 vs 86.4%, P<0.05). No difference was observed in embryo cleavage rates between these two groups, but the proportion of embryos that developed into blastocysts in the vitrification group was only half that of the controls (24.2 vs 47.2%, P<0.05). Nevertheless, live births of healthy normal pups were achieved after transfer of vitrified blastocysts derived from both experimental groups. This study shows that successful production of healthy offspring using an in vitro follicle culture system is feasible, and suggests that this procedure could be used in cancer patients who wish to preserve their fertility using ovarian tissue cryopreservation.

Free access

Joseph Saragusty and Amir Arav

Preservation of female genetics is currently done primarily by means of oocyte and embryo cryopreservation. The field has seen much progress during its four-decade history, progress driven predominantly by research in humans, cows, and mice. Two basic cryopreservation techniques rule the field – controlled-rate freezing, the first to be developed, and vitrification, which, in recent years, has gained a foothold. While much progress has been achieved in human medicine, the cattle industry, and in laboratory animals, this is far from being the case for most other mammals and even less so for other vertebrates. The major strides and obstacles in human and other vertebrate oocyte and embryo cryopreservation will be reviewed here.

Free access

J. Carroll, G. M. Warnes, and C. D. Matthews

Summary. Fewer frozen–thawed mouse oocytes cleaved to the 2-cell stage compared to fresh control oocytes fertilized in vitro (46% vs 79%). The reduced rate of 2-cell formation was only partly explained by a decreased rate of fertilization (63% vs 85%). However, subsequent development to expanded blastocysts was not different (75% vs 78%). An increased frequency of second polar body retention by fertilized frozen-thawed oocytes compared with controls (11·8% vs 1·3%) was shown to be largely responsible for the higher incidence of polyploidy (16·3% vs 3·7%). The frequency of polyspermic fertilization was not different in the two groups (3·9% vs 2·3%).

Keywords: cryopreservation; in-vitro fertilization; mouse; oocyte; digyny; polyploidy

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H. Kishikawa, H. Tateno, and R. Yanagimachi

After male animals die, the spermatozoa within the testis and epididymis eventually disintegrate. In this study, the motility, viability and fertility of mouse spermatozoa were examined after retrieval from the epididymis at various days after death. Cadavers were maintained in a refrigerator at 4°C. About 30% of the spermatozoa collected 10 days after death were viable, but they had limited ability to fertilize oocytes in vitro. However, when the spermatozoa were injected into oocytes, the fertilization rate was over 80%. Normal live fetuses were even obtained using immotile spermatozoa retrieved 20 days after death. Therefore, when valuable male animals die unexpectedly and sperm cryopreservation is not possible immediately, temporal storage of cadavers (or epididymis and vas deferens) at 4°C in a regular refrigerator followed by intracytoplasmic sperm injection may help to preserve the genome of individuals. This procedure could be particularly important in endangered species.

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S. L. Monfort, G. W. Asher, D. E. Wildt, T. C. Wood, M. C. Schiewe, L. R. Williamson, M. Bush, and W. F. Rall

This study tested the efficacy of assisted reproduction (synchronization of oestrus and intrauterine artificial insemination (AI)) in contributing to the captive propagation of an endangered species, the Eld's deer (Cervus eldi thamin). Semen was collected from males preselected on the basis of under-represented genotype. Motility of spermatozoa after thawing from ejaculates diluted with BF5F extender (8% glycerol), frozen on dry ice in 0.5 ml straws and stored in liquid nitrogen was 60–70%. Intravaginal progesterone-releasing devices (controlled internal drug release, CIDR-type G) were inserted into 20 adult Eld's deer hinds for 14 days. In all hinds, semen (7.5–10 × 106 motile spermatozoa per uterine horn) was deposited by laparoscopy performed 70 h after removal of the CIDR device. Ovarian activity, before and after AI, was monitored by analysing pregnanediol-3α-glucuronide (PdG) concentrations in voided urine collected three to seven times per week. During the period of CIDR device insertion, urinary PdG profiles were equal to, or above, normal luteal phase concentrations in all hinds. Within 48 h of device withdrawal, PdG concentrations returned to baseline values in 17 of the 20 females, and the onset of behavioural oestrus occurred at this time in 12 hinds. On the basis of sustained increases in urinary PdG, 9 of the 20 hinds were diagnosed as pregnant by 90 days after AI, all of which delivered offspring after a mean gestation of 241.1 days (range, 235–245). Seven singletons (two females, five males) were born alive and survived, and one singleton and one set of twins were stillborn (three females). This is the greatest number of pregnancies and offspring produced in a single AI trial for any endangered mammal. These results demonstrate that genotype preselection can be combined with assisted reproductive technologies, including use of frozen semen, to produce genetically valuable offspring useful for conserving a rare species.

Free access

L. M. Penfold and H. D. M. Moore

A new method for the cryopreservation of mouse spermatozoa was developed using a modified egg-yolk TES–Tris diluent containing 0.1% sodium lauryl sulfate and 1.25% (v/v) glycerol (mouse sperm cryoprotectant, MSC). Epididymal spermatozoa collected from 10-week-old CBA males were frozen at a rate of 5°C min−1 to 4°C and 50°C min−1 to −70°C using a programmable cell freezer. A percentage of the spermatozoa (25%) regained motility after thawing. In vitro fertilization with frozen–thawed spermatozoa resulted in 50% of oocytes developing to the two-cell stage. These two-cell embryos were placed in the oviducts of pseudopregnant recipients (C57BL/CBA) and 16% developed to be viable fetuses, or in the oviducts of pregnant recipients (MF1) and 17% developed to live offspring.