Bioengineering the ovary to preserve and reestablish female fertility
Different bioengineering strategies can be presently adopted and have been shown to have great potential in the treatment of female infertility and ovarian dysfunction deriving from chemotherapy, congenital malformations, massive adhesions as well as aging and lifestyle. One option is transplantation of fresh or cryopreserved organs/fragments into the patient. A further possibility uses tissue engineering approaches that involve a combination of cells, biomaterials and factors that stimulate local ability to regenerate/ repair the reproductive organ. Organ transplant has shown promising results in large animal models. However, the source of the organ needs to be identified and the immunogenic effects of allografts remain still to be solved before the technology may enter the clinical practice. Decellularization/ repopulation of ovary with autologous cells or follicles could represent an interesting, still very experimental alternative. Here we summarize the recent advancements in the bioengineering strategies applied to the ovary, we present the principles for these systems and discuss the advantages of these emerging opportunities to preserve or improve female fertility.
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