Journal Article

Estimating human ovarian non-growing follicle number: the application of modern stereology techniques to an old problem<sup>†</sup>

Jay S. Charleston, Karl R. Hansen, Angela C. Thyer, Lynne B. Charleston, Alain Gougeon, Joseph R. Siebert, Michael R. Soules and Nancy A. Klein

in Human Reproduction

Published on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Volume 22, issue 8, pages 2103-2110
Published in print August 2007 | ISSN: 0268-1161
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2350 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dem137
Estimating human ovarian non-growing follicle number: the application of modern stereology techniques to an old problem†

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BACKGROUND

Previous published reports on the number of non-growing follicles (NGFs) in the human ovary have employed model-based methods for number estimates. These methods are time-intensive, and require correction factors and assumptions that ultimately limit their accuracy. Here, we describe the modification, application and validation of a modern fractionator/optical disector technique for the estimation of human ovarian NGF number.

METHODS

Forty-eight pairs of normal human ovaries were collected from women (age 8–51 years) undergoing elective bilateral oophorectomy, organ donation, or from autopsy. After gross pathologic examination, systematic random sampling was utilized to obtain tissue for analysis by the fractionator/optical disector method. The precision of individual NGF counts was determined by calculating the observed coefficient of error (OCE). Intra-observer variability and variation in NGF number between ovaries within a pair were also determined.

RESULTS

The mean OCE was 16.6% with larger variations observed at lower follicle counts. In recount experiments of the same ovary, NGF number estimates varied by 15–29%, except at very low follicle counts where variation was greater, but absolute differences were small. There was no significant difference in NGF number between ovaries within a pair (Wilcoxon signed rank test, P = 0.81).

CONCLUSIONS

Modern stereology methods provide an unbiased, efficient method for estimating NGF number in the human ovary. Both ovaries within a pair contain similar numbers of NGFs.

Keywords: optical disector; fractionator; follicles; human ovary; stereology

Journal Article.  5632 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Reproductive Medicine

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