Isolation and characterization of primordial follicles from fresh and cryopreserved human ovarian tissue

Fertil Steril. 1997 Mar;67(3):481-6. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(97)80073-8.


Objective: To develop an efficient isolation technique for human primordial follicles.

Design: Prospective, experimental study of ovarian biopsies collected from healthy women undergoing elective cesarean section. Ovarian blocks either were fixed for histology and follicle counting or partially disaggregated with type 1A collagenase before or after cryopreservation. After partial disaggregation, follicles were isolated by microdissection.

Setting: Leeds General Infirmary.

Main outcome measure(s): Follicle viability was assessed with live-dead stains using 5-(and 6-) carboxyfluorescein diacetate, succinimidyl ester and propidium iodide, respectively, and using electron microscopy. The numbers recovered were expressed as a percentage of the numbers of primordial follicles in comparable blocks of tissue and the viability of the whole follicle and oocyte were scored separately.

Result(s): On average, 18.0 +/- 3.8 and 15.9 +/- 2.2 (mean +/- SEM) follicles per block were recovered from fresh and cryopreserved ovarian tissue, respectively, corresponding to recovery rates of 57.9% +/- 8.8% and 56.2% +/- 16.7%. In the fresh group, the percent viability of whole follicles and oocytes were 71.6% +/- 2.4% and 91.3% +/- 2% compared with 71.5% +/- 4.7% and 95% +/- 4.3% in the frozen-thawed group. Electron microscopy confirmed that the majority of the cells lacked ultrastructural signs of damage after isolation and cryopreservation.

Conclusion(s): Primordial follicles can be isolated from fresh and cryopreserved human ovarian tissue with similar high efficiency and viability rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Survival
  • Cesarean Section
  • Collagenases
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology*
  • Ovarian Follicle / ultrastructure
  • Ovary*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Collagenases