Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers grow sperm stem cells in laboratory cultures

04.11.2004


Advance could lead to new infertility treatments, source of adult stem cells


Spermatogonial stem cells expressing green fluorescent protein.



A team of researchers working with cells from mice has overcome a technical barrier and succeeded in growing sperm progenitor cells in laboratory culture. The researchers transplanted the cells into infertile mice, which were then able to produce sperm and father offspring that were genetically related to the donor mice. "This advance opens up an exciting range of possibilities for future research, from developing new treatments for male infertility to enhancing the survival of endangered species," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NICHD. Their research, funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, will be published online this week in an upcoming issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Led by Hiroshi Kubota, D.V.M., Ph.D., the team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia, also included Mary Avarbock and Ralph L. Brinster V.M.D., Ph.D. The researchers succeeded in developing the culture medium containing the precise combination of cellular growth factors needed for the cells to reproduce themselves outside the body. Known as spermatogonial stem cells, the cells are incapable of fertilizing egg cells but give rise to cells that develop into sperm.


In 1994, this same research team developed the means to transplant spermatogonial stem cells from one mouse into another. The recipient mice then produced sperm--fully capable of fertilizing egg cells--with the genetic characteristics of the donor mice. Because they can now grow spermatogonial stem cells in culture, researchers have a ready source of cells that they could manipulate genetically, explained the study’s senior author, Ralph Brinster.

For example, researchers could implant a new gene into a spermatogonial cell, reproduce a large number of spermatogonial cells in the culture medium, and then implant the cells into recipient animals. These animals could then pass the new trait on to their offspring. The ability to introduce a new trait into animals would greatly assist breeders of both livestock and laboratory animals. Moreover, by culturing and freezing spermatogonial stem cells from a valuable livestock animal or an endangered species, researchers could extend the reproductive life of that animal indefinitely. (The researchers developed a technique for successfully freezing and thawing spermatogonial cells in 1996.)

By manipulating the culture media that contains the spermatogonial stem cells, researchers might also be able to induce the spermatogonial cells to develop into sperm cells that could be used to fertilize eggs, providing a method to treat some types of infertility. "This finding is likely to be applicable to humans," Dr. Brinster said. He added that the same growth factors needed to culture the mouse stem cells would likely foster the growth of human spermatogonial cells as well as the cells of other mammals.

Currently, males who undergo chemotherapy that renders them infertile can store their semen so that it can be used at a later date, should they wish to father children. However, this approach results in a less than 50 percent success rate. Boys who are too young to provide a semen sample but who also need such chemotherapy treatments could also be helped by the new technique. Their spermatogonial stem cells could be cultured to increase their numbers, frozen, and reimplanted at a later date, restoring their fertility.

Moreover, the new culture technique would allow researchers to further investigate the potential of spermatogonial stem cells as a source for more versatile adult stem cells to replace diseased or injured tissue. The replacement tissue might be used to help patients with spinal cord injury, or disorders like Parkinson’s disease or heart disease.

To conduct their study, Dr. Kubota and his colleagues began with mice that had been genetically altered to express green fluorescent protein, or GFP, which gives off a green light in the presence of a certain wavelength of light. During key stages of the experiment, tissue from the donor mice gave off a green light.

At the first step, the researchers could distinguish spermatogonial stem cells from the cells used to nurture them in lab cultures by the green light the spermatogonial stem cells gave off. (A photograph of the spermatogonial stem cells appears at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/new/releases/stem_cell.cfm.)

The spermatogonial stem cells also gave off green light when they grew and reproduced in the testes of the recipient mice. Similarly, about half of the baby mice fathered by the recipient mice also glowed green (See photo at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/new/releases/green_brown_mice.cfm.)

Robert Bock | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nih.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>