Detection of spermatogonial stem/progenitor cells in prepubertal mouse testis with deep learning

Kahveci B., Önen S., AKAL F., KORKUSUZ P.

Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, vol.40, no.5, pp.1187-1195, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 40 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10815-023-02784-1
  • Journal Name: Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ATLA Religion Database, BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.1187-1195
  • Keywords: Spermatogonial stem, progenitor cells, Testis, YOLO object detection, Deep learning, Computer vision
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: Rapid and easy detection of spermatogonial stem/progenitor cells (SSPCs) is crucial for clinicians dealing with male infertility caused by prepubertal testicular damage. Deep learning (DL) methods may offer visual tools for tracking SSPCs on testicular strips of prepubertal animal models. The purpose of this study is to detect and count the seminiferous tubules and SSPCs in newborn mouse testis sections using a DL method. Methods: Testicular sections of the C57BL/6-type newborn mice were obtained and enumerated. Odd-numbered sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E), and even-numbered sections were immune labeled (IL) with SSPC specific marker, SALL4. Seminiferous tubule and SSPC datasets were created using odd-numbered sections. SALL4-labeled sections were used as positive control. The YOLO object detection model based on DL was used to detect seminiferous tubules and stem cells. Results: Test scores of the DL model in seminiferous tubules were obtained as 0.98 mAP, 0.93 precision, 0.96 recall, and 0.94 f1-score. The SSPC test scores were obtained as 0.88 mAP, 0.80 precision, 0.93 recall, and 0.82 f1-score. Conclusion: Seminiferous tubules and SSPCs on prepubertal testicles were detected with a high sensitivity by preventing human-induced errors. Thus, the first step was taken for a system that automates the detection and counting process of these cells in the infertility clinic.