Objective: Uterine transplantation (UTx) has been proposed as a treatment option for women diagnosed with absolute uterine factor infertility (AUFI). The goal of UTx remains achieving pregnancy and live birth of a healthy neonate following allogeneic UTx. Our aim was to assess whether fertility was possible following allogeneic uterine transplantation (UTx), when the recipient had demonstrated long-term survival and had been administered immunosuppression.
Study design: Nine allogeneic UTx in New Zealand White rabbits were performed using a pre-determined protocol. Tacrolimus was the immunosuppressant selected. Embryos were transferred into both cornua of the sole living recipient via a mini-midline laparotomy. The pregnancy was monitored with regular reproductive profiles and serial trans-abdominal ultrasound to measure conceptus growth (gestation sac and crown rump length (CRL)).
Results: In the sole surviving doe a gestation sac was visualised on ultrasound from Day 9 (D9) after embryo transfer. Gestation sac diameter and CRL increased from D9 to D16 but by D18 the gestation sac had reduced in size. The fetus was no longer visible, suggesting fetal resorption had occurred. Subsequent scans on D22 and D25 did not demonstrate a gestation sac. Scheduled necropsy on D27 and histopathology confirmed evidence of a gravid uterus and presence of a gestational sac. A single episode of acute rejection occurred on D13.
Conclusion: Pregnancy was achieved after rabbit allogeneic UTx but serial ultrasound suggested that fetal demise occurred prior to scheduled necropsy. The study represents only the third example of conception and pregnancy following an animal allogeneic UTx.
Keywords: Fertility; Pregnancy; Rabbit; Uterine transplantation.
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