Document Type : Original Article
Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran
Department of Cell Engineering, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, ACECR, Tehran, Iran
Department of Stem Cells and Developmental Biology, Cell Sciences Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, ACECR, Tehran, Iran
Objective: In the present study, the applicability of hyaluronic acid-alginate (HAA) hydrogel and ovarian cells (OCs) for
the culture of mouse ovarian follicles were investigated and compared with those of alginate (ALG) and fibrin-alginate (FA) hydrogels.
Materials and Methods: In the first step of this experimental study, mechanically isolated preantral follicles from the
ovaries of two-week-old mice were encapsulated in the absence or presence of OCs in ALG, HAA, and FA hydrogels and
cultured for 14 days. The morphology, diameter, survival and antrum formation rates of the follicles and the maturation and quality of the oocytes were evaluated during culture. In the second step, preantral follicles were cultured similar to the first step, but for 13 days, and their gene expressions and hormonal secretion were assessed on the last day of culture.
Results: In the absence of OCs, higher numbers of ALG- and HAA-encapsulated follicles reached the antral stage compared to FA-encapsulated follicles (P<0.05). However, a higher percentage of HAA-developed oocytes resumed meiosis up to the germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD)/metaphase II (MII) stages in comparison with ALG-developed oocytes (P<0.05). HAA-encapsulated follicles had significant overexpression of most of the growth and differentiation genes, and secreted higher levels of estradiol (E2) compared to ALG- and FA-encapsulated follicles (P<0.05). The co-culture condition increased the diameter of ALG-encapsulated follicles on day 13 of culture (P<0.05). It also increased the survival and maturation rates of ALG- and FA-encapsulated follicles, respectively (P<0.05). The co-culture condition improved cortical granule distribution in all groups, increased E2 and progesterone (P4) secretions in the ALG and FA groups, and androstenedione (A4) secretion in the FA group (P<0.05).
Conclusion: The present study results show that HAA hydrogel is a promising hydrogel for follicle culture. OCs utilization could ameliorate the culture conditions regardless of the type of hydrogel.