Shikanov A, Zhang Z, Xu M, Smith RM, Rajan A, Woodruff TK, Shea LD. Tissue Eng Part A. 2011 Dec;17(23-24):3095-104. Epub 2011 Sep 21. PMID: 21740332
Ovarian cryopreservation before chemotherapy and autotransplantation post-treatment can restore fertility to women with premature ovarian failure. Although the majority of primordial follicles survive the cryopreservation cycle, the follicular pool is reduced after transplantation due to ischemic death. Therefore, we engineered a biomaterial-based system to promote angiogenesis in a mouse model of ovarian transplantation. To mimic the clinical situation of sterility, a bilateral ovariectomy was performed 2 weeks before transplantation, during which time serum levels of follicular stimulating hormone rose to menopausal levels. Before transplantation, vitrified/thawed ovarian tissue from 12-day-old C57Bl/6J pups was encapsulated in fibrin modified with heparin-binding peptide (HBP), heparin, and loaded with 0.5 μg vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The group transplanted with fibrin-HBP-VEGF had twice as many surviving primordial follicles and an increased number of blood vessels relative to the no biomaterial control. Transplanted tissue was viable and supported natural conception that led to live and healthy offspring. The timeline of live births with VEGF delivery suggested that primary follicles survived transplantation, and provided the gametes for the first litter. Thus, VEGF delivery from fibrin supported integration of the transplant with the host, promoted angiogenesis, and enhanced engraftment and function of the tissue.