Stem cell research: Method to identify origins of new Leydig cells in males

September 6, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed a new way to identify and study the stem cells that are capable of giving rise to new Leydig cells in adult testes.

Leydig cells produce testosterone, which affects not only the but also , cognition, and . Adult Leydig cells, once formed, rarely die or divide if left undisturbed, but can regenerate if experimentally depleted. The that give rise to the new cells are difficult to study because they, too, usually remain quiescent and their behavior is tightly controlled by the cells surrounding them.

In a study published in the journal Endocrinology, the Johns Hopkins researchers employed two approaches tostudy these cells. In one approach, they isolated and cultured the from the testes of rats. In another approach, they isolated and cultured the two major components of the testis, the seminiferous tubules and the interstitium. With the first approach, the researchers isolated undifferentiated cells that were able to self-renew or differentiate in vitro into testosterone-producing cells. Using the second approach, the researchers found that the seminiferous tubules had undifferentiated cells on their surfaces that also were able to self-renew or differentiate. In contrast to the isolated cells, the differentiated cells on the tubule surfaces produced testosterone remarkably robustly. When the newly formed, differentiated cells were removed from the tubule surfaces and the tubules were cultured again, testosterone-producing cells reappeared. This regenerative ability provided further evidence of the presence of stem cells.

"It is always a challenge to study low-turnover stem cells in adult tissue, and it is difficult to study the factors that regulate the cells because of the complexity of the tissue," said study senior author Haolin Chen, PhD, a senior scientist with the Bloomberg School's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. "The culture system that we developed has enabled us to begin to examine the behavior of the stem cells in vitro in the presence of their niche."

"The in vitro systems that Dr. Chen and then PhD candidate Erin Stanley developed should enable investigators to obtain critical information about the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the stem cells self-renew and differentiate. Eventually, these studies might lead to the use of stem to treat androgen deficiency in aging men," said Barry Zirkin, PhD, co-author of the study and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Explore further: Controlling self-renewal of stem cells

More information: "Identification, Proliferation and Differentiation of Adult Leydig Stem Cells", Endocrinology, 2012.

Related Stories

Controlling self-renewal of stem cells

September 2, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) are the first to establish a direct link between a conserved stem cell factor and the cell cycle regulation in adult stem cells. ...

Recommended for you

New, more effective strategy for producing flu vaccines

December 5, 2016

A team of researchers led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has developed technology that could improve the production of vaccines ...

Another step closer to artificial blood

December 5, 2016

(HealthDay)—Artificial blood stored as a powder could one day revolutionize emergency medicine and provide trauma victims a better chance of survival.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.