Germline stem cells Toward the regeneration of spermatogenesis

Stem cells are essential for mammalian sperm production and may have application for treating male infertility.

Hanna Valli, B.S., Bart T. Phillips, Ph.D., Gunapala Shetty, Ph.D., James A. Byrne, Ph.D., Amander T. Clark, Ph.D., Marvin L. Meistrich, Ph.D., Kyle E. Orwig, Ph.D.

Volume 101, Issue 1, Pages 3-13, January 2014


Improved therapies for cancer and other conditions have resulted in a growing population of long-term survivors. Infertility is an unfortunate side effect of some cancer therapies that impacts the quality of life of survivors who are in their reproductive or prereproductive years. Some of these patients have the opportunity to preserve their fertility using standard technologies that include sperm, egg, or embryo banking, followed by IVF and/or ET. However, these options are not available to all patients, especially the prepubertal patients who are not yet producing mature gametes. For these patients, there are several stem cell technologies in the research pipeline that may give rise to new fertility options and allow infertile patients to have their own biological children. We will review the role of stem cells in normal spermatogenesis as well as experimental stem cell–based techniques that may have potential to generate or regenerate spermatogenesis and sperm. We will present these technologies in the context of the fertility preservation paradigm, but we anticipate that they will have broad implications for the assisted reproduction field.

  • Jose Medrano

    Thanks for this complete review about such a complex topic.

    I just would like to ask the authors a couple of doubts that raised upon reading it:

    First, I would like to know what do authors think about how the delay in the auto-transplant to adulthood of survival prepuberal cancer patients could affect the integrity of their spermatogenic empty niche.

    Also, it is interesting that prepuberal rhesus SSC xenotransplant in immunodefficient mice resulted in sperm production, but results with human SSCs in recipient mice only indicate their ability for the re-colonization of the empty niche. Based in these observations, I would like what do the authors think about the possibility to test human SSC xenotransplant in rhesus recipients.

    Again, congratulations for such a great review and thanks in advance for your comments.

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