Transplantation of ovarian tissue is, at present, the only clinical option available to restore fertility using cryopreserved ovarian tissue. More than 30 transplantations of cryopreserved tissue have been reported, and six babies have been born, worldwide, following this procedure. Despite these encouraging results, it is essential to optimize the procedure by improving the follicular survival, confirming safety and developing alternatives. Here, we review the different factors affecting follicular survival and growth after grafting.
Relevant studies were identified by searching Pubmed up to January 2009 with English language limitation. The following key words were used: (ovarian tissue or whole ovary) AND (transplantation) AND (cryopreservation or pregnancy). Using the literature and personal experience, we examined relevant data on the different exogenous and clinical factors affecting follicular development after grafting.
Clinical factors such as the patient's age and the transplantation sites influenced the lifespan of the graft. A heterotopic transplantation site is not optimal but offers some advantages and it may also promote the hormonal environment after a combined heterotopic and orthotopic transplantation. Exogenous factors such as antioxidants, growth factors or hormones were tested to improve follicular survival; however, their efficiency regarding further follicular development and fertility potential remains to be established.
Additional evidence is required to define optimal conditions for ovarian tissue transplantation. Alternatives such as whole ovary or isolated follicles transplantations require further investigation but are likely to be successful in humans in the future.