Heterotopic uterine transplantation by vascular anastomosis in the mouse

J Endocrinol. 2002 Aug;174(2):157-66. doi: 10.1677/joe.0.1740157.


A method of heterotopic uterine transplantation was developed in the mouse as a model system for studies of uterine function and transplant immunology of the uterus. The model involved transplantation of the right uterine horn and the cervix by vascular anastomosis to a donor animal with the intact native uterus remaining in situ. F1-hybrids of inbred C57BL/6 x CBA/ca (B6 CBAF1) mice of 6-8 weeks of age (n=42) were used. The specific pelvic vascular anatomy of these mice was first examined by intra-aortal injection of a two-component silicon-rubber curing agent. The surgery of the donor animal involved microsurgical isolation of the right uterine horn and the cervix, with preserved vascular supply from the aorta through the right uterine artery. After isolation of the uterine horn with vascular supply and venous drainage, including approximately 3 mm of the inferior vena cava and aorta, the organ was put on ice. The recipient animal was prepared by exposing and mobilizing the infrarenal part of the aorta and the vena cava. The grafted uterus was placed in the abdomen on the left side and the aorta and vena cava of the graft were anastomosed end-to-side to the aorta and vena cava of the recipient animal with 11-0 sutures. The total time for these procedures declined with time and was 125+/-4 min for the last 28 operations. Viability of the uterus was confirmed, several days later, by demonstrating a blood flow similar to that of the native uterus, and histology of the grafted uterus demonstrated normal morphology, including intact ultrastructure of the endothelial cells. The overall survival rate of the recipient animals increased with learning from approximately 40% in animals 1-21 to 71% in animals 22-42. The proportion of viable grafts, as judged by normal blood flow and histology among the surviving mice was 25% in animals 1-21 and 87% in animals 22-42. An undisturbed function of the transplanted uterus horn was finally demonstrated by its ability to implant inserted blastocysts and to carry pregnancy with fetal weight being similar to that of fetuses in the native uterus and controls. In conclusion, this is the first report of successful transplantation of the uterus with proven functionality in the mouse. The model should be useful for many aspects of research in uterine physiology and pathophysiology.

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Surgical*
  • Animals
  • Aorta*
  • Cervix Uteri / transplantation
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Female
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Microsurgery
  • Models, Animal*
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterus / blood supply
  • Uterus / transplantation*
  • Venae Cavae*