Adult Stem Cells in the Human Testis

Ellen Goossens, PhD, MSc; Herman Tournaye, MD, PhD, MSc


Semin Reprod Med. 2013;31(1):39-48. 

In This Article

Spermatogonial Stem Cell Culture

In a first attempt to maintain SSCs in vitro, testicular cells were cultured on embryonic fibroblasts in a medium containing fetal bovine serum.[57] The efficacy of SSC culture could be improved by enriching the cell suspension for SSCs or by using pup testicular cells.[58] The addition of GDNF to the culture increased SSC self-renewal[34] and was a great step forward in the establishment of long-term mouse SSC culture systems.[59,60] Whereas fibroblast growth factor 2 was indispensable, feeder layers and serum could be omitted.[61,62] The exclusion of feeder cells and serum is a remarkable leap forward in the establishment of any clinical application.

The culture of SSCs from other mammalian species has been reported too,[63–66] but it was not until very recently that human SSC culture was realized. Sadri-Ardekani et al isolated and cultured testicular cells from six adult men[67] and two prepubertal boys.[68] Frozen-thawed human SSCs could be proliferated in vitro in the presence of epidermal growth factor, GDNF, and leukemia inhibitory factor without losing the expression of spermatogonial markers.