Ovarian tissue cryopreservation
Does the use of ovarian tissue cryopreserved before cancer treatment transplanted in women with a history of cancer result in pregnancy and live birth? What are the risks of the harvesting procedure?
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is the main option for pre-pubertal girls and young women with a history of cancer when other options (including oocyte cryopreservation) are contraindicated or not possible because of time constraints. Ovarian stimulation with oocyte cryopreservation has been performed in pre-pubertal and peri-pubertal girls, however these were investigational case reports and the procedure is not recommended in routine care.
Recent advances, including birth after grafting of ovarian tissue taken from pre-pubertal girls, have demonstrated the clinical usefulness of this technique as a safe form of fertility preservation that may result in restoration of ovarian function, pregnancy and live birth. However, even after optimal cryopreservation and grafting, ovarian function is somewhat fragile, with some follicular atresia of the tissue and a finite duration of ovarian activity. While some reported pregnancies are spontaneous, the follicular dynamics and oocyte quality are variable and IVF may be required. This technique is no longer considered experimental.
Tissue cryopreservation requires technical expertise and therefore is best performed in centres with experience to ensure the best possible chance of tissue viability after grafting. Improvements in tissue handling will expand the opportunities for pregnancy from this technique. The recent creation of international registries for fertility preservation and for ovarian tissue cryopreservation will allow better data evaluation to inform best practice.
The best summary of evidence regarding complications of tissue retrieval surgery and grafting technique comes from three systematic reviews and a meta-analysis. Corkum et al found that three studies noted bleeding as a complication of ovarian tissue cryopreservation, although this was rare. The same publication also noted tubal pregnancy and graft failure as a complication of ovarian tissue auto-transplantion.
Despite concerns of malignant cells being in grafted tissue, one systematic review found that recurrence of cancer due to ovarian tissue transplantation is unlikely. Histological and molecular examination of the tissue for malignant cells before transplantation is recommended as is close monitoring of transplant patients for recurrence. Malignant cell contamination has been demonstrated in patients with acute leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma prior to chemotherapy or remission. Various strategies are in development to reduce the risk, including in vitro maturation, purging, the artificial ovary and xenografting.
|Ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation for post-pubertal females is no longer considered experimental, with increasing numbers of births after both spontaneous pregnancies and IVF. For pre-pubertal girls, ovarian tissue cryopreservation remains the main option for future fertility and reported births suggest the future success of this technique. Risk of malignant spread is considered high in leukemia and may be relevant in other cancers. Currently experimental models are evaluating techniques to optimise safe pregnancy for these patients.||IV||, , , |
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