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Orthotopic Ovarian Transplantation Procedures to Investigate the Life- and Health-span Influence of Ovarian Senescence in Female Mice

Ovarian transplantation was first conducted at Utah State University in 1963. In more recent work, heterochronic transplantation of mammalian ovaries is being used to investigate the health-protective effects of young ovaries in young females. The current procedures employ an orthotopic transplantation method, where allogenic ovaries are transplanted back to their original position in the ovarian bursa. This is in contrast to the more commonly used heterotopic transplantation of ovaries/ovarian tissue subcutaneously or under the kidney capsule. All three locations provide efficient revascularization of the transplanted tissues. However, orthotopic transplantation provides the ovary with the most natural signaling environment and is the only procedure that provides the opportunity for the animal to reproduce naturally post-operatively. One must take care to remove all endogenous ovarian tissue during the ovariectomy procedure. If any endogenous tissue remains or if only one ovary is removed, the transplanted tissue will remain dormant until the existing tissue becomes senescent. While revascularization of the transplanted ovaries occurs very quickly, the transplant recipient can take a considerable amount of time to adapt to a new hypothalamic/pituitary/gonadal/adrenal (HPG/A) axis signaling regime associated with the transplanted tissue. This normally takes about 100 days in the mouse. Therefore, transplantation experiments should be designed to accommodate this adaptation period. Typical results with ovarian transplantation will include changes in the health of the recipient that reflect the age of the transplanted ovary, rather than the chronological age of the recipient.

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