Bovine ovarian cortex tissue culture

Courtney M. Sutton, Shelby A. Springman, Mohamed A. Abedal-Majed, Andrea S. Cupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Follicle development from the primordial to antral stage is a dynamic process within the ovarian cortex, which includes endocrine and paracrine factors from somatic cells and cumulus cell-oocyte communication. Little is known about the ovarian microenvironment and how the cytokines and steroids produced in the surrounding milieu affect follicle progression or arrest. In vitro culture of ovarian cortex enables follicles to develop in a normalized environment that remains supported by adjacent stroma. Our objective was to determine the effect of nutritional Stair-Step diet on the ovarian microenvironment (follicle development, steroid, and cytokine production) through in vitro culture of bovine ovarian cortex. To accomplish this, ovarian cortical pieces were removed from heifers undergoing two different nutritionally developed schemes prior to puberty: Control (traditional nutrition development) and Stair-Step (feeding and restriction during development) that were cut into approximately 0.5-1 mm3 pieces. These pieces were subsequently passed through a series of washes and positioned on a tissue culture insert that is set into a well containing Waymouth's culture medium. Ovarian cortex was cultured for 7 days with daily culture media changes. Histological sectioning was performed to determine follicle stage changes before and after the culture to determine effects of nutrition and impact of culture without additional treatment. Cortex culture medium was pooled over days to measure steroids, steroid metabolites, and cytokines. There were tendencies for increased steroid hormones in ovarian microenvironment that allowed for follicle progression in the Stair-Step versus Control ovarian cortex cultures. The ovarian cortex culture technique allows for a better understanding of the ovarian microenvironment, and how alterations in endocrine secretion may affect follicle progression and growth from both in vivo and in vitro treatments. This culture method may also prove beneficial for testing potential therapeutics that may improve follicle progression in women to promote fertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61668
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number167
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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