Mini Bioreactor Can Support In Vitro Spermatogenesis of Mouse Testicular Tissue

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

2 Tissue Engineering and Applied Cell Sciences Division, Department of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

3 Adjunct Research Associate Professor at Chemistry Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA


Objective: It was in the early 20th century when the quest for in vitro spermatogenesis started. In vitro spermatogenesis is critical for male cancer patients undergoing gonadotoxic treatment. Dynamic culture system creates in vivo-like conditions. In this study, it was intended to evaluate the progression of spermatogenesis after testicular tissue culture in mini-perfusion bioreactor.
Materials and Methods: In this experimental study, 12 six-day postpartum neonatal mouse testes were removed and fragmented, placed on an agarose gel in parallel to bioreactor culture, and incubated for 8 weeks. Histological, molecular and immunohistochemical evaluations were carried out after 8 weeks.
Results: Histological analysis suggested successful maintenance of spermatogenesis in tissues grown in the bioreactor but not on agarose gel, possibly because the central region did not receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients, which led to necrotic or degenerative changes. Molecular analysis indicated that Plzf, Tekt1 and Tnp1 were expressed and that their expression did not differ significantly between the bioreactor and agarose gel. Immunohistochemical evaluation of testis fragments showed that PLZF, SCP3 and ACRBP proteins were expressed in spermatogonial cells, spermatocytes and spermatozoa. PLZF expression after 8 weeks was significantly lower (P<0.05) in tissues incubated on agarose gel than in the bioreactor, but there was no significant difference between SCP3 and ACRBP expression among the bioreactor and agarose gel culture systems.
Conclusion: This three-dimensional (3D) dynamic culture system can provide somewhat similar conditions to the physiological environment of the testis. Our findings suggest that the perfusion bioreactor supports induction of spermatogenesis for generation of haploid cells. Further studies will be needed to address the fertility of the sperm generated in the bioreactor system.


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