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Engineering the Follicle Microenvironment

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In vitro ovarian follicle culture provides a tool to investigate folliculogenesis, and may one day provide women with fertility-preservation options. The application of tissue engineering principles to ovarian follicle maturation may enable the creation of controllable microenvironments that will coordinate the growth of the multiple cellular compartments within the follicle. Three-dimensional culture systems can preserve follicle architecture, thereby maintaining critical cell-cell and cell-matrix signaling lost in traditional two-dimensional attached follicle culture systems. Maintaining the follicular structure while manipulating the biochemical and mechanical environment will enable the development of controllable systems to investigate the fundamental biological principles underlying follicle maturation. This review describes recent advances in ovarian follicle culture, and highlights the tissue engineering principles that may be applied to follicle culture, with the ultimate objective of germline preservation for females facing premature infertility.

Erin R. West, Lonnie D. Shea, and Teresa K. Woodruff; Semin Reproduction Med. Vol 25 No 4 287-99 July 2007

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