Purpose: Fertility preservation in a pediatric and teen female population is challenging because standard technologies of egg and embryo freezing may not be possible due to premenarcheal status. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation (OTC) with the intent of future ovarian tissue transplantation or in vitro follicle growth may be the only option to preserve fertility. The purpose of this study was to add to the general understanding of primordial follicle dynamics in young patients.
Methods: First, the unique infrastructure of the Oncofertility Consortium National Physicians Cooperative (OC-NPC) is described, which simultaneously drives clinical fertility preservation and basic research to explore and expand the reproductive options for those in need. Then, the OC-NPC research resource is used to perform a histological evaluation of ovarian tissue from 24 participants younger than 18 years of age.
Results: Primordial follicles, which comprise the ovarian reserve, were observed in all participant tissues, irrespective of variables, including age, diagnosis, previous treatment history, tissue size, and tissue processing methods. Primordial follicles were present in ovarian tissue, even in participants who had a previous history of exposure to chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment regimens, which placed them at risk for iatrogenic infertility or premature ovarian failure.
Conclusion: Primordial follicles were observed in ovarian tissue from all participants examined, despite population and tissue heterogeneity. These results increase the understanding of human follicle dynamics and support OTC as a promising fertility preservation modality in the young female population. Future studies to evaluate follicle quality within these tissues are warranted.
Keywords: fertility preservation; follicle; oncofertility; ovarian tissue cryopreservation; ovary.