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Spermatogenesis in testis xenografts grafted from pre-pubertal Holstein bulls is re-established by stem cell or early spermatogonia.

  • Huang, Stephanie
  • Sartini, Becky L
  • Parks, John E
Published Article
Animal Reproduction Science
Publication Date
Jan 15, 2008
PMID: 17188436


Xenografting of testis explants into recipient mice has resulted in successful restoration of spermatogenesis in several species. Most studies have utilized neonatal donor tissue, although a few have used prepubertal testes. In Holstein bulls, prepubertal development of the testis occurs between 16 and 32 weeks of age. The purpose of the present study was to determine the optimal age during prepubertal development of Holstein bulls for testis grafting. Explants of testis tissue from Holstein bulls between 12 and 32 weeks of age (2 bulls/age; 6 ages) were subcutaneously grafted into castrated or intact immunocompromised mice (n=8/age), then recovered after 75 and 173 days (n=4 mice/grafting period) and evaluated histologically for spermatogenic progression. Seminiferous tubules were assigned a score based on the most advanced type of germ cell present within the tubule and the average for all tubules scored (n=25) within an explant was calculated. Scores for all explants per mouse (n=6) were averaged to give a single spermatogenic progression score per mouse. No difference in spermatogenic progression of grafts between intact and castrated recipients was observed. Spermatocytes were observed in testis grafts from bulls of all ages 75 days post-grafting. At 173 days, the spermatogenic progression score for explants derived from 20 weeks bulls was greater than all ages except 12 weeks donors (p<0.05), with 8% of tubules containing spermatids. Donor material from bulls older than 20 weeks had lesser spermatogenic progression scores largely attributed to the greater number of atrophic tubules in grafts from older donors. Grafts from 28 and 32 weeks donors showed signs of degeneration by 75 days post-grafting, with 30 and 55% atrophic tubules, respectively, and lesser spermatogenic efficiency scores. By 173 days post-grafting, 72% of tubules in explants from 32 weeks donors were atrophic. The results of the present study suggest that the early stages of prepubertal development are optimal for testis grafting while advanced spermatogenesis in the donor tissue prior to grafting had a negative effect on graft development. Spermatogenesis within the grafts apparently needs to be re-established by spermatogonial stem cells or early spermatogonia.

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