Ovary on a chip


Cryopreserving ovary tissue containing oocyte precursors (follicles) is the best treatment offered to cancer patients willing to create family after chemo- or radiotherapy. Follicles mature in-vivo from 100 000 primordial follicles to a single oocyte per cycle. Due to the mature follicle rarity, follicle in-vitro maturation after cryopreservation is primordial before in-vitro fertilization [1].

We propose here to perform and study the maturation of cryopreserved follicles inside a miniaturized system mimicking the ovary microenvironment – called “ovary-on-a-chip”. In this work, the student will design and fabricate a microfluidic system dedicated to the positioning, encapsulation and advanced culture of primordial follicles, based on protocols developed or adapted by our group [2,3,4]. First tests will be conducted on cell aggregates -or spheroids- followed by the actual culture and characterization of primordial follicles in collaboration with the Leiden University Medical Center.

Techniques: microfluidic design, microfabrication, microfluidic manipulation, cell culture, tissue engineering, cell analysis.


[1] Telfer, E.E., Zelinski, M.B., 2013. Ovarian follicle culture: advances and challenges for human and nonhuman primates. Fertility and Sterility 99, 1523–1533. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.03.043

[2] Xu, X., Sarder, P., Li, Z., Nehorai, A., 2013. Optimization of microfluidic microsphere-trap arrays. Biomicrofluidics 7. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4793713

[3] Yamada, A., Renault, R., Chikina, A., Venzac, B., Pereiro, I., Coscoy, S., Verhulsel, M., Parrini, M.C., Villard, C., Viovy, J.-L., Descroix, S., 2016. Transient microfluidic compartmentalization using actionable microfilaments for biochemical assays, cell culture and organs-on-chip. Lab Chip 16, 4691–4701. https://doi.org/10.1039/C6LC01143H

[4] Shin, Y., Han, S., Jeon, J.S., Yamamoto, K., Zervantonakis, I.K., Sudo, R., Kamm, R.D., Chung, S., 2012. Microfluidic assay for simultaneous culture of multiple cell types on surfaces or within hydrogels. Nature protocols 7, 1247–59. https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2012.051

Contact person
prof.dr.ir. S. le Gac (Severine) PhD
Full Professor