It proves that transplanted uteri can harbour pregnancies and provides hope that successful womb transplants will be possible in women in the future.
The team from Sahlgrenska University, Gteborg, are presenting their work this week to the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid.
Team leader Professor Mats Brnnstrm told a news briefing today (Tuesday 1 July) that they have developed a technique for transplantation of the uterus from one mouse to another: in each recipient mouse the transplanted uterus was placed alongside the normal uterus, which acted as a control. After transplantation between genetically identical mice the grafted uterus produced pups. The mouse pups had normal body weight, showed normal behaviour and were fertile. Five out of seven uterine grafts that had been preserved in cooling solution for 24 hours before transplantation also produced healthy pups. Transplantation between different strains of mice was also used to study rejection of the transplants.
Professor Brnnstrm said: "There were reports in the 1960s and 1970s of live births from replanted uteri, but these were uteri taken out and replaced in the same animal, so not true transplants. These are the first true transplants in the world to produce live births."
A major difficulty in organ transplantation is the damage caused by ischaemia (bloodlessness) during the time between removing an organ and transplanting it. Organs are therefore preserved in a cooling solution to minimise the problem. No one up to now has investigated the tolerance of uterine tissue to cold ischaemia.
The researchers preserved some of the uteri
Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology