Treating male infertility with stem cells

March 2, 2007

New research has examined the usefulness of bone marrow stem cells for treating male infertility, with promising results. The related report by Lue et al, “Fate of bone marrow stem cells transplanted into the testis: potential implication for men with testicular failure,” appears in the March issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

When a couple experiences infertility, the man is just as likely as the woman to be the cause. Male infertility may arise from failed proliferation and differentiation of the germ cells (precursors of sperm) or from dysfunction of the supporting cells. New research is looking to stem cells as a means of replacing nonfunctioning cells, whether germ cells or supporting cells.

Researchers, directed by Dr. Ronald S. Swerdloff of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, collected bone marrow stem cells from mice expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP). These green cells, which could be easily tracked in recipient mice, were injected into the testes of infertile mice, in which infertility was induced either chemically or genetically (via mutations in a gene required for sperm production).

The donor GFP-expressing cells took up residence in the testes and survived within the recipient mice for the entire 12-week study period. The donor stem cells displayed the characteristic shape of either germ cells or supporting cells, suggesting that the stem cells had differentiated. These differentiated donor (green) cells were also found near the native recipient cells of the same type, demonstrating that the local cellular environment likely influenced the fate of the donor stem cells.

As further confirmation of the differentiation status of the donor cells, the expression of specific proteins on the cell surface was examined. Both germ and supporting cells expressed marker proteins known to be found only on the differentiated cells, not on stem cells.

These data demonstrate that bone marrow stem cells have the potential to differentiate into cells of the testes involved in sperm production, both germ cells and supporting cells. Interestingly, the germ cells did not differentiate fully into sperm, suggesting that additional factors or cellular signals are needed.

Future studies will characterize the other factors, such as hormones, required to complete sperm production in this transplant model. In addition, since the bone marrow cells used here represent a mixed population of stem cells, further studies will determine which specific stem cell type was able to colonize and differentiate in the testes. The results of future studies could have dramatic implications for treating male infertility or testosterone deficiency.

Source: American Journal of Pathology

Explore further: Study reveals why testicular cancer is so responsive to chemo

Related Stories

Study reveals why testicular cancer is so responsive to chemo

November 14, 2017
Cornell researchers have taken a major step toward answering a key question in cancer research: Why is testicular cancer so responsive to chemotherapy, even after it metastasizes?

Bacteria may help babies' digestive tracts more than suspected, scientists find

November 7, 2017
Some of the first living things to greet a newborn baby do a lot more than coo or cuddle. In fact, they may actually help the little one's digestive system prepare for a lifetime of fighting off dangerous germs.

Researchers devise improved gene-editing process for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

November 30, 2017
Regenerative medicine researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center developed an improved and simplified gene-editing technique using CRISPR/Cas9 tools to correct a common mutation that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Stem cells from some infertile men form germ cells when transplanted into mice, study finds

May 1, 2014
Stem cells made from the skin of adult, infertile men yield primordial germ cells—cells that normally become sperm—when transplanted into the reproductive system of mice, according to researchers at the Stanford University ...

New model for studying germ cell tumors in testes enlists embryonic stem cells

July 11, 2011
A team of researchers from Spain and Switzerland have developed a new model for studying the development of testicular germ cell tumors by transplanting embryonic stem cells into the seminiferous tubules in mouse models, ...

Reprogramming of DNA observed in human germ cells for first time

June 4, 2015
A team of researchers led by the University of Cambridge has described for the first time in humans how the epigenome - the suite of molecules attached to our DNA that switch our genes on and off - is comprehensively erased ...

Recommended for you

Forces from fluid in the developing lung play an essential role in organ development

January 23, 2018
It is a marvel of nature: during gestation, multiple tissue types cooperate in building the elegantly functional structures of organs, from the brain's folds to the heart's multiple chambers. A recent study by Princeton researchers ...

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

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.