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In vitro production of functional sperm in cultured neonatal mouse testes

Spermatogenesis is one of the most complex and longest processes of sequential cell proliferation and differentiation in the body, taking more than a month from spermatogonial stem cells, through meiosis, to sperm formation1,2. The whole process, therefore, has never been reproduced in vitro in mammals3,4,5, nor in any other species with a very few exceptions in some particular types of fish6,7. Here we show that neonatal mouse testes which contain only gonocytes or primitive spermatogonia as germ cells can produce spermatids and sperm in vitro with serum-free culture media.

Date: 17 June 2020



Spermatogenesis is one of the most complex and longest processes of sequential cell proliferation and differentiation in the body, taking more than a month from spermatogonial stem cells, through meiosis, to sperm formation1,2. The whole process, therefore, has never been reproduced in vitro in mammals3,4,5, nor in any other species with a very few exceptions in some particular types of fish6,7. Here we show that neonatal mouse testes which contain only gonocytes or primitive spermatogonia as germ cells can produce spermatids and sperm in vitro with serum-free culture media. Spermatogenesis was maintained over 2 months in tissue fragments positioned at the gas–liquid interphase. The obtained spermatids and sperm resulted in healthy and reproductively competent offspring through microinsemination. In addition, neonatal testis tissues were cryopreserved and, after thawing, showed complete spermatogenesis in vitro. Our organ culture method could be applicable through further refinements to a variety of mammalian species, which will serve as a platform for future clinical application as well as mechanistic understanding of spermatogenesis.
 

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Takehiko OGAWA

  • Professor
    Laboratory of Biopharmaceutical and Regenerative Sciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine and Life Science,
    Yokohama City University Association of Medical Science, 3‐9 Fukuura, Kanazawa‐ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236‐0004, Japan
  • ogawa@yokohama-cu.ac.jp