[Frontiers in Bioscience 7, d1979-1989, September 1, 2002]


PJ Devine, KS Rajapaksa, and Patricia B Hoyer

Department of Physiology, The University of Arizona, 1501 N. Campbell Ave P.O. Box 245051, Tucson AZ 85724-5051


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
2.1 Overall goals of in vitro culture
2.1.1. Review of ovarian physiology
2.1.2. Goals of ovarian culture
3. Whole organ culture
3.1. Methodology
3.2. Applications
3.2.1. Developmental changes and acquisition of steroidogenic capabilities
3.2.2. Ovarian hormonal and culture requirements
3.2.3. Initiation of follicular development
3.2.4. Toxicologic assessment of endocrine-active compounds
3.3. Advantages/disadvantages
4. Isolated follicle cultures
4.1. Methodology
4.2. Applications
4.2.1. Developmental changes of follicles from animals of various ages
4.2.2. Ovarian hormone synthetic capabilities
4.2.3 Progression of follicular development in vitro
4.3. Advantages/disadvantages
5. Perfusion and perifusion of ovarian tissue
5.1. Methodology
5.2. Applications
5.3. Advantages/disadvantages
6. Special considerations: transgenic animals
7. Future applications: toxicity studies
7.1. Overview of VCD-induced ovotoxicity
7.2. Species specificity
7.3. Characterization of follicular loss
7.4. Mechanisms of follicular loss
8. In vitro assessment of VCD-induced ovarian follicular loss
8.1. Effects of VCD on ovarian follicles in cultured rat ovaries
8.2. Future investigations
9. Perspectives
10. Acknowledgements
11. References


Many investigations have utilized techniques for culturing ovarian tissue or isolated follicles in vitro. Whole ovaries from fetal or neonatal rodents have been incubated in organ culture systems. This has been utilized to understand the sequence of follicle formation and its hormonal requirements, activation of quiescent follicles, follicular growth and development, and acquisition of steroidogenic capabilities. Adaptations of this technique include incubation of ovaries in a chamber continuously perfused with medium or perfusion of medium through the intact vasculature. Late follicular development, ovulation, and steroidogenesis can also be examined in these systems. Another approach has been to culture individual follicles isolated by enzymatic or mechanical dissociation. The majority of this research has focused on improving follicular development in vitro. This review will discuss these various culture techniques and some of the results that have been acquired. Recent results from toxicological studies utilizing whole ovarian cultures performed will also be described. Future applications for ovarian and follicular cultures may include in vitro follicular development for eventual production of offspring from frozen ovarian tissue, mechanistic studies related to the impact of endocrine disruptors and ovotoxicants on ovarian function, and further investigations into follicle activation and development.