Discovery of follicles offers hope of babies for Turners syndrome girls

Lausanne, Switzerland: Swedish researchers have found that teenage girls with Turners syndrome still have follicles in their ovaries which may be capable of producing eggs. This discovery offers hope that Turners syndrome girls may be able to have babies in the future.

Mr Julius Hreinsson, an embryologist in the Fertility Unit at Huddinge University Hospital, in Stockholm, Sweden, told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting at Lausanne today (Wednesday 4 July), that he and his colleagues had succeeded in obtaining ovarian tissue containing follicles from five teenage girls. The researchers had divided the tissue and then frozen it.

"To our knowledge this is the first time that follicles have been observed in ovarian tissue from patients with Turners syndrome. Our findings give hope for the future infertility treatment of these girls," he told the meeting.

Turners syndrome affects about one in every 3,000 girls. They are born with one X chromosome missing and usually their ovaries do not develop properly. It is thought that the primordial follicles that are present in their ovaries at birth, start to disappear rapidly, although it is not clear at what age this process starts. As a result, Turners syndrome women are usually infertile and spontaneous pregnancies occur in only about 25% of them. However up to 30% do show some sexual development at puberty, which suggests that follicles are still in their ovaries as adolescents.

Mr Hreinsson and his colleagues used laparoscopy1 to take ovarian tissue from six girls, aged 12, 13, 15, 15, 17 and 19 who had come to the clinic asking that their ovarian tissue should be frozen (cryopreserved) for possible infertility treatment in later life. They successfully retrieved ovarian tissue containing follicles from five of the girls, but the 17-year-old was found to have no ovarian tissue. The density of the follicles in the tissue ranged from 1.5 to 1

Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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