BACKGROUND: Growing cells in simulated weightlessness condition might be a highly promising new technique to maintain or generate tissue constructs in a scaffold-free manner. There is limited evidence that microgravity condition may affect development of ovarian follicles. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of simulated microgravity on the in vitro development of mouse preantral follicles.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Ovarian tissue from 14-day-old mice, or preantral follicles mechanically isolated from 14-day-old mouse ovaries were cultured at a simulated microgravity condition generated using a rotating wall vessel apparatus. Follicle survival was assessed quantitatively using H&E staining. Follicle diameter and oocyte diameter were measured under an inverted microscope. Ultrastructure of oocytes was evaluated using transmission electron microscopy. We observed that simulated microgravity compromised follicle survival in vitro, downregulated PCNA and GDF-9 expressions, and caused ultrastructural abnormalities in oocytes.
CONCLUSION: This study showed for the first time that three-dimensional culture condition generated by simulated microgravity is detrimental to the initial stage development of mouse preantral follicles in vitro. The experimental setup provides a model to further investigate the mechanisms involved in the in vitro developmental processes of oocytes/granulosa cells under the microgravity condition.
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