BACKGROUND: Extracellular activation of signal transduction pathways and their downstream target transcription factors (TFs) are critical regulators of cellular processes and tissue development. The intracellular signaling network is complex, and techniques that quantify the activities of numerous pathways and connect their activities to the resulting phenotype would identify the signals and mechanisms regulating tissue development.
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.
The mechanical properties and density of natural and synthetic extracellular matrices are known to affect cellular processes and regulate tissue formation. In this report, these factors were independently investigated for their role in ovarian follicle development. The matrix composition was controlled through decreasing the solids concentration or the molar mass of the encapsulating biomaterial, alginate.
The availability of viable oocytes is the limiting factor in the development of new reproductive techniques. Many attempts have been made to grow immature oocytes in vitro during recent decades. Recently, a modified alginate-based three-dimensional culture system was designed to support the growth and maturation of multilayered secondary follicles. This system was able to produce oocytes that successfully completed meiosis, fertilization, and development to the blastocyst stage.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides a three-dimensional structure that promotes and regulates cell adhesion and provides signals that direct the cellular processes leading to tissue development. In this report, synthetic matrices that present defined ECM components were employed to investigate these signaling effects on tissue formation using ovarian follicle maturation as a model system.
The in vitro culture of immature ovarian follicles is used to examine the factors that regulate follicle development and may ultimately provide options for reproductive infertility. The objective of this study was to develop a three-dimensional in vitro culture system for the growth and development of individual granulosa cell-oocyte complexes. An alginate hydrogel was used to encapsulate immature mouse granulosa cell-oocyte complexes (GOCs) that were subsequently maintained in a serum-free in vitro culture.
In this report, we investigate the fibrin-alginate interpenetrating network (FA-IPN) to provide dynamic cell-responsive mechanical properties, which we apply to the in vitro growth of ovarian follicles. The mechanical properties and polymerization rate of the gels were investigated by rheology, and the fiber structure was imaged by electron microscopy.