In vitro growth and maturation of primordial follicles and immature oocytes

Fertil Steril. 2021 May;115(5):1116-1125. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2021.03.004. Epub 2021 Apr 3.


Cryopreservation of ovarian tissue to preserve the fertility of girls and young women at high risk of sterility is now widely practiced. Pieces of cryopreserved ovarian cortex can be thawed and autografted to restore fertility, but because of the risks of reintroduction of the cancer, transplantation may not be possible for girls and women with blood-borne leukemias or cancers with a high risk of ovarian metastasis. Cryopreserved ovarian tissue contains mainly primordial follicles but also provides access to immature oocytes from small antral follicles, which may be matured in vitro to provide an additional source of mature oocytes. So in cases in which transplantation is contraindicated, fertility restoration could be safely achieved in the laboratory either by in vitro maturation (IVM) of oocytes aspirated from growing follicles or by the complete in vitro growth (IVG) and maturation (IVM) of primordial follicles to produce fertile metaphase II (MII) oocytes. The development of IVM and IVG methods to support all stages of oocytes available within ovarian tissue will maximize the potential for all patients undergoing fertility preservation.

Keywords: In vitro follicle activation (IVA); Oocyte; Ovarian Cryopreservation Follicle Culture; Ovary; in vitro fertilization (IVF); in vitro growth (IVG); in vitro growth and maturation (IVGM); in vitro maturation (IVM).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryopreservation / methods
  • Female
  • Fertility Preservation / methods
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Oocyte Maturation Techniques* / methods
  • Oocytes / cytology
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Oogenesis / physiology*
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology