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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Short-term culture of ovarian cortex pieces to assess the cryopreservation outcome in wild felids for genome conservation

Caterina Wiedemann*, Jennifer Zahmel and Katarina Jewgenow

Author affiliations

Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), PF 700430, Berlin, 10324, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:37  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-37

Published: 22 February 2013



Cryopreservation of ovarian tissue has the potential to preserve female germ cells of endangered mammals. In the present study, a freezing protocol successfully used for human tissue, was adapted for preserving ovarian tissue of domestic and non-domestic felids. Ovaries from non-domestic felid species were obtained from seven freshly euthanized and two recently deceased wild felids kept in different European Zoos. In addition, ovaries from domestic cats were obtained after ovariectomy from local veterinary clinics for methological adaptations.

Ovarian cortex was dissected and uniform sized pieces of 2 mm diameter were obtained. Using a slow freezing protocol (-0.3°C per min) in 1.5 mol/L ethylene glycol, 0.1 mol/L sucrose, the pieces were cultured for up to 14 days both before and after cryopreservation. The integrity of primordial follicles was assessed by histology, and the impact of different protein sources (FCS or BSA) and Vitamin C was determined during two weeks of culture.

Results and conclusion

During culture the number of primordial follicles decreased within the ovarian pieces (p < 0.05). This effect was less pronounced when FCS was used as the protein source instead of BSA. Supplementation with Vitamin C had a detrimental effect on follicle survival. Since the procedure of cryopreservation had no effect on the follicle survival after one week of culture we conclude that the freezing protocol was suitable for felids. This is the first report of preserving a huge amount of follicles within ovarian tissue by slow freezing performed in several wild feline species.

Wild felids; Domestic cat; Cryopreservation; Ovarian cortex; Ovarian tissue culture; Primordial follicles