Restoration of ovarian function after autotransplantation of intact frozen-thawed sheep ovaries with microvascular anastomosis

Fertil Steril. 2003 Mar;79(3):594-602. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(02)04842-2.


Objective: To test the feasibility of transplanting an intact frozen-thawed ovary with microvascular anastomosis of the ovarian vascular pedicle to the deep inferior epigastric vessels.

Design: Chronic survival study.

Setting: Biological Resources Unit, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Animal(s): Adult merino ewes.

Intervention(s): Bilateral laparoscopic oophorectomy was performed on 17 synchronized ewes. In one group of animals (Group I, n = 11), both ovaries were cryopreserved intact with their vascular pedicles. In another group of animals (Group II, n = 6), ovarian cortical strips were prepared from each ovary and cryopreserved. After thawing, follicular viability and apoptosis rates were assessed using one ovary. The other ovary was transplanted to the abdominal wall with microvascular anastomosis (Group I). In Group II, the ovarian cortical strips were placed in the anterior abdominal wall. Ovaries were harvested after 8-10 days in situ and subjected to histological evaluation.

Main outcome measure(s): Blood flow, apoptotic signals, follicular viability, serum estradiol (E(2)), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and histology.

Result(s): No significant differences were found in the mean values of apoptosis (mostly in the atretic and some secondary follicles) and follicular viability in both groups. In Group I, immediate and long-term patency were documented in 100% and 27% (3/11) of the grafts, respectively; and postoperative FSH levels were similar to preoperative values in animals with patent vessels. In Group II, postoperative FSH levels were significantly higher than the preoperative ones (P=.03).

Conclusion(s): Transplantation of an intact frozen-thawed ovary is technically feasible. Using this approach, immediate restoration of vascular supply and ovarian hormonal functions is possible.

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Surgical*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cryopreservation
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Laparoscopy
  • Microcirculation / surgery*
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology
  • Ovariectomy
  • Ovary / blood supply
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Ovary / transplantation*
  • Sheep
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Vascular Patency


  • Estradiol
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone