Author(s): Wyns C, Curaba M, MartinezMadrid B, Van Langendonckt A, FranoisXavier W,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Fertility preservation has become an urgent clinical requisite for prepubertal male cancer patients undergoing gonadotoxic treatment. As these patients do not yet produce spermatozoa for freezing, only immature tissue is available for storage. We studied the survival and proliferative activity of spermatogonia and Sertoli cells after cryopreservation of cryptorchid testicular tissue pieces followed by xenografting for 21 days. METHODS AND RESULTS: Single pieces of tissue from cryptorchid testes (2-9 mm(3)) of young boys (2-12 years) were cryopreserved, thawed and transplanted into the scrotum of mice. Quantitative morphometric and immunohistochemical techniques were used to evaluate the integrity of the tissue, as well as the survival and proliferative capacity of spermatogonia and Sertoli cells before and after freezing/thawing/grafting. Three weeks after grafting, cryopreserved tissue was removed and analysed. Most of the tubules (88.3\%) were intact and there was no fibrosis or sclerosis, 14.5\% of the initial spermatogonial population remained, as identified by the MAGE A4 antibody, and 32\% of these cells showed proliferative activity evidenced by Ki67, compared to 17.8\% before cryopreservation and grafting. The number of Sertoli cells was unchanged and 5.1\% were Ki67-positive, compared to none at all before freezing and grafting. CONCLUSIONS: Through our orthotopic xenografting model, we have demonstrated the survival and proliferative activity of spermatogonia and Sertoli cells in cryopreserved immature human cryptorchid tissue. Testicular tissue banking may thus prove to be a promising technique for the preservation of fertility in prepubertal boys undergoing oncological treatments. As the stem cell niche is maintained, the cryopreserved tissue can potentially be used for future autotransplantation. In addition, whole tissue freezing does not exclude alternative clinical uses, including isolated cell transplantation after dissociation, selection and enrichment. However, as this work was done on cryptorchid tissue, studies on normal immature testicular tissue, involving longer grafting periods, are needed to demonstrate a differentiation capacity before clinical implementation. Ethical and safety issues should also be addressed.
This article was published in Hum Reprod
and referenced in Journal of Microbial & Biochemical Technology