Influence of microwave-assisted dehydration on morphological integrity and viability of cat ovarian tissues: First steps toward long-term preservation of complex biomaterials at supra-zero temperatures
Ovarian tissue contains large pools of immature oocytes enclosed in primordial follicles, making it an attractive target for fertility preservation in female cancer patients, livestock and wild species. Compared to cryopreservation, desiccation and long-term storage of samples at supra-zero temperatures (using strategies inspired from small organisms to resist extreme environments) would be more cost-effective and convenient. The objective of the study was to characterize the influence of microwave-assisted dehydration on structural and functional properties of living ovarian tissues. While this method allows preservation of single cells (cat oocytes and sperm cells so far) using trehalose as the xeroprotectant, it has not been developed for multicellular tissues yet. Ovarian cortex biopsies were reversibly permeabilized, exposed to various concentrations of trehalose, and dried for different times using a commercial microwave under thermal control. Effective dehydration of samples along with proper trehalose retention were reached within 30 min of microwave drying. Importantly, the process did not affect morphology and DNA integrity of follicles or stromal cells. Moreover, transcriptional activity and survival of follicles were partially maintained following 10 min of drying, which already was compatible with storage at non-cryogenic temperatures. Present data provide critical foundation to develop dry-preservation techniques for long-term storage of living multicellular tissues.