Mind the mechanical strength: tailoring a 3D matrix to encapsulate isolated human preantral follicles - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Human Reproduction Open Year : 2023

Mind the mechanical strength: tailoring a 3D matrix to encapsulate isolated human preantral follicles

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION Would a hydrogel with similar mechanical properties to the human ovarian cortex support preantral follicle development? SUMMARY ANSWER Yes, our tailored PEGylated fibrin hydrogel was shown to significantly improve follicle growth in vitro. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY One of the main challenges in developing an engineered ovary is to provide a 3D matrix that supports the follicle architecture and the interaction between granulosa cells and the oocyte as they are essential for folliculogenesis. Thanks to its biocompatibility and bioactivity, fibrin has been employed to fabricate a 3D matrix to encapsulate ovarian follicles. However, follicles lose their physical support within a few days owing to rapid fibrin degradation. Therefore, different strategies, including physical and chemical modifications, have been developed to enhance the stability of fibrin. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION By developing a matrix made of a synthetic (polyethylene glycol: PEG) and natural polymer (fibrin), we aimed to overcome fibrin degradation by the chemical reaction of PEGylation and tailor a PEGylated fibrin hydrogel formulation with mechanical strength similar to the ovarian cortex in women of reproductive age. To this end, response surface methodology was employed to obtain a tailored formulation of PEGylated fibrin. This hydrogel was then tested to encapsulate and support isolated human preantral follicles in vitro. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS A PEGylated fibrin formulation was tailored using mathematical modeling software to mimic the mechanical properties of human ovarian tissue at reproductive age. Human preantral follicles were isolated from 11 patients of reproductive age and encapsulated in the tailored hydrogels, which were cultured in vitro for 4 or 7 days. Follicle survival and diameter were assessed on Days 1 and 7. Furthermore, the follicles were subjected to confocal microscopy to evaluate their growth (Ki67 staining) on Day 7 and analyze cell–cell communication (connexin 43 and transzonal projection staining) on Day 4. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE In this study, mathematical modeling was applied to achieve the biomechanically tailored PEGylated fibrin formulation by targeting the specific goal of 3178 ± 245 Pascal, Young’s modulus of ovarian cortical tissue in reproductive-age women. Our results demonstrated that the PEGylated fibrin hydrogel consisting of 39.06 mg/ml of PEGylated fibrinogen and 50.36 IU/ml of thrombin was the optimum condition with the desirability of 97.5%. This tailored hydrogel yielded a high follicle survival rate (83%) after 7 days of in vitro culture and supported its development up to the secondary stage. Follicle growth was confirmed by the presence of Ki67-positive granulosa cells on Day 7. Additionally, connexin 43 and Phalloidin staining indicated the retention of connections between granulosa cells and the oocyte. LARGE SCALE DATA N/A. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION In this study, our tailored hydrogel was only tested in vitro, which is not the same as the physiological environment. It is crucial to conduct a study assessing the follicles following their encapsulation in the tailored hydrogel and transplantation, which will be the next step of our investigation. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS The findings from this study introduced a suitable biomaterial similar to the ovarian cortex in reproductive-age women in terms of biomechanical properties for encapsulating human preantral follicles. This biomaterial allowed the radial growth of follicles and preserved their viability. Furthermore, PEGylation improved the stability of fibrin and the physical support of follicles. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) This study was supported by grants from the Fondation Louvain (PhD scholarship awarded to S.M., as part of a legacy from Mr Frans Heyes, and PhD scholarship awarded to A.D. as part of a legacy from Mrs Ilse Schirmer). The authors declare no competing interests.

Dates and versions

hal-04302004 , version 1 (23-11-2023)

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Arezoo Dadashzadeh, Saeid Moghassemi, Alexis Peaucelle, Carolina Lucci, Christiani Amorim. Mind the mechanical strength: tailoring a 3D matrix to encapsulate isolated human preantral follicles. Human Reproduction Open, 2023, 2023 (2), ⟨10.1093/hropen/hoad004⟩. ⟨hal-04302004⟩
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