Ovarian tissue transport to expand access to fertility preservation: from animals to clinical practice

Reproduction. 2016 Dec;152(6):R201-R210. doi: 10.1530/REP-15-0598. Epub 2016 Aug 4.


Primordial follicles dictate a female's reproductive life span and therefore are central to fertility preservation for both endangered species and individuals with fertility-threatening conditions. Ovarian tissue containing primordial follicles can be cryopreserved and later thawed and transplanted back into individuals to restore both endocrine function and fertility. Importantly, increasing numbers of human live births have been reported following ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation. A current limitation of this technology is patient access to sites that are approved or equipped to process and cryopreserve ovarian tissue - especially in larger countries or low resource settings. Here, we review empirical evidence from both animal models and human studies that suggest that ovarian tissue can be transported at cold temperatures for several hours while still maintaining the integrity and reproductive potential of the primordial follicles within the tissue. In fact, several human live births have been reported in European countries using tissue that was transported at cold temperatures for up to 20 h before cryopreservation and transplantation. Ovarian tissue transport, if implemented widely in clinical practice, could therefore expand both patient and provider access to emerging fertility preservation options.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryopreservation / methods*
  • Female
  • Fertility Preservation*
  • Humans
  • Ovary / transplantation*
  • Pregnancy