Considerable challenges in engineering the female reproductive tissue are the follicle’s unique architecture, the need to recapitulate the extracellular matrix, and tissue vascularization. Over the years, various strategies have been developed for preserving fertility in women diagnosed with cancer, such as embryo, oocyte, or ovarian tissue cryopreservation. While autotransplantation of cryopreserved ovarian tissue is a viable choice to restore fertility in prepubertal girls and women who need to begin chemo- or radiotherapy soon after the cancer diagnosis, it is not suitable for all patients due to the risk of having malignant cells present in the ovarian fragments in some types of cancer. Advances in tissue engineering such as 3D printing and ovary-on-a-chip technologies have the potential to be a translational strategy for precisely recapitulating normal tissue in terms of physical structure, vascularization, and molecular and cellular spatial distribution. This review first introduces the ovarian tissue structure, describes suitable properties of biomaterials for ovarian tissue engineering, and highlights recent advances in tissue engineering for developing an artificial ovary. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: The increase of survival rates in young cancer patients has been accompanied by a rise in infertility/sterility in cancer survivors caused by the gonadotoxic effect of some chemotherapy regimens or radiotherapy. Such side-effect has a negative impact on these patients’ quality of life as one of their main concerns is generating biologically related children. To aid female cancer patients, several research groups have been resorting to tissue engineering strategies to develop an artificial ovary. In this review, we discuss the numerous biomaterials cited in the literature that have been tested to encapsulate and in vitro culture or transplant isolated preantral follicles from human and different animal models. We also summarize the recent advances in tissue engineering that can potentially be optimal strategies for developing an artificial ovary.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.