In vitro Maturation

Stem cells and Reproductive Biology

Cryopreservation or cryoconservation is a process where cells, whole tissues, or any other substances susceptible to damage caused by chemical reactivity or time are preserved by cooling to sub-zero temperatures. At low enough temperatures, any enzymatic or chemical activity which might cause damage to the material in question is effectively stopped. Cryopreservation methods seek to reach low temperatures without causing additional damage caused by the formation of ice during freezing. The main techniques to prevent cryopreservation damages are a well established combination of controlled rate and slow freezing and a newer flash-freezing process known as vitrification.

In vitro maturation (IVM): The ability of in IVM depends on how mature the follicle already is. There are several stages in¬†folliculogenesis, starting with a primordial follicle, which then becomes a primary, secondary, early tertiary (antral), late tertiary and eventually a preovulatory follicle. If a follicle has reached the early tertiary or antral stage, IVM can be carried out. A few live births have already been made by taking small early tertiary follicles, letting them mature in vitro and subsequently fertilizing¬†them. However, for follicles that haven’t reached the early tertiary stage, IVM is still under development

Stem Cells and Reproductive Medicine: In 2004, two studies indicated that ovaries contain stem cells which form oocytes in adults and that can be cultured in vitro into mature oocytes. A live birth after orthotopic transplantation of cyropreserved ovarian tissue in a woman whose ovaries were damaged by chemotherapy demonstrates the clinical potential of these cells. In the same year, another study provided novel evidence of endometrial regeneration by stem cells in women who received bone marrow transplants. This finding has potential for the use in treatment of uterine disorders. It also supports a new theory for the cause of endometriosis, which may have its origin in ectopic transdifferentiation of stem cells. Several recent studies have demonstrated that fetal cells enter the maternal circulation and generate microchimerism in the mother. The uterus is a dynamic organ permeable to fetal stem cells, capable of transdifferentiation and an end organ in which bone marrow stem cells may differentiate. Finally stem cell transformation can be an underlying cause of ovarian cancer.

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