Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) are primary factors leading to infertility. However, there is a lack of appropriate animal models of DOR usable for assessing new therapeutic strategies. In this study, we aimed to evaluate whether chemotherapy treatment in mice could reproduce features similar of that observed in women with DOR. Twenty-one Nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) female mice were allocated to 3 groups (n = 7/group): control, single dose of vehicle (Dimethyl Sulfoxide [DMSO]); DOR, single reduced chemotherapy dose; and POI, single standard chemotherapy dose. After 21 days, mice underwent ovarian hyperstimulation and mating. Part of the animals were harvested to analyze ovarian reserve, ovulation and fertilization rates, and morphology, apoptosis, and vascularization of the ovarian stroma. The remaining mice underwent multiple matings to assess pregnancy rates and litter sizes. The DOR and POI mice showed an impaired estrous cyclicity and a decrease in ovarian mass, number of follicles, Metaphase II (MII) oocytes, and embryos as well as in ovarian stroma vascularization. Mice in both models showed also an increase in the percentage of morphologically abnormal follicles, stromal degeneration, and apoptosis. Similar to that observed in DOR and POI patients, these impairments were less severe in DOR than in POI mice. None of the POI females were able to achieve a pregnancy. Meanwhile, DOR females achieved several consecutive pregnancies, although litter size was decreased when compared to controls. In conclusion, a mouse model which displayed most of the ovarian characteristics and fertility outcomes of women with DOR has been established using a single dose of chemotherapy.
Keywords: chemotherapy; diminished ovarian reserve; mouse model; ovarian damage; primary ovarian insufficiency.