Subcutaneous ovarian tissue transplantation in nonhuman primates: duration of endocrine function and normalcy of subsequent offspring as demonstrated by reproductive competence, oocyte production, and telomere length

David Lee, Carrie M. Thomas, Fuhua Xu, Richard R. Yeoman, Jing Xu, Richard Stouffer, Don P. Wolf, Mary Zelinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The main purposes of the study were to investigate the endocrine function of ovarian tissue transplanted to heterotopic subcutaneous sites and the reproductive competence and telomere length of a nonhuman primate originating from transplanted tissue. Methods: Ovarian cortex pieces were transplanted into the original rhesus macaques in the arm subcutaneously, in the abdomen next to muscles, or in the kidney. Serum estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) concentrations were measured weekly for up to 8 years following tissue transplantation. A monkey derived from an oocyte in transplanted ovarian tissue entered time-mated breeding and underwent controlled ovarian stimulation. Pregnancy and offspring were evaluated. Telomere lengths and oocytes obtained following controlled ovarian stimulation were assessed. Results: Monkeys with transplants in the arm and abdomen had cyclic E2 of 100 pg/ml, while an animal with arm transplants had E2 of 50 pg/ml. One monkey with transplants in the abdomen and kidney had ovulatory cycles for 3 years. A monkey derived from an oocyte in transplanted tissue conceived and had a normal gestation until intrapartum fetal demise. She conceived again and delivered a healthy offspring at term. Controlled ovarian stimulations of this monkey yielded mature oocytes comparable to controls. Her telomere length was long relative to controls. Conclusions: Heterotopic ovarian tissue transplants yielded long-term endocrine function in macaques. A monkey derived from an oocyte in transplanted tissue was reproductively competent. Her telomere length did not show epigenetically induced premature cellular aging. Ovarian tissue transplantation to heterotopic sites for fertility preservation should move forward cautiously, yet optimistically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
StateAccepted/In press - Sep 23 2017



  • Fertility
  • Ovarian tissue transplantation
  • Primate
  • Steroid hormone
  • Telomere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)

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