A pumpless monolayer microfluidic device based on mesenchymal stem cell-conditioned medium promotes neonatal mouse in vitro spermatogenesis

Önen S., Atik A. C., Gizer M., KÖSE S., YAMAN M. Ö., KÜLAH H., ...More

Stem Cell Research and Therapy, vol.14, no.1, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s13287-023-03356-x
  • Journal Name: Stem Cell Research and Therapy
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: In vitro spermatogenesis, Male infertility, Mesenchymal stem cells, Microfluidics, Prepubertal boys
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Childhood cancer treatment-induced gonadotoxicity causes permanent infertility/sub-infertility in nearly half of males. The current clinical and experimental approaches are limited to cryopreservation of prepubertal testicular strips and in vitro spermatogenesis which are inadequate to achieve the expanded spermatogonial stem/progenitor cells and spermatogenesis in vitro. Recently, we reported the supportive effect of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal cell co-culture which is inadequate after 14 days of culture in static conditions in prepubertal mouse testis due to lack of microvascular flow and diffusion. Therefore, we generated a novel, pumpless, single polydimethylsiloxane-layered testis-on-chip platform providing a continuous and stabilized microfluidic flow and real-time cellular paracrine contribution of allogeneic bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Methods: We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of this new setup in terms of self-renewal of stem/progenitor cells, spermatogenesis and structural and functional maturation of seminiferous tubules in vitro by measuring the number of undifferentiated and differentiating spermatogonia, spermatocytes, spermatids and tubular growth by histochemical, immunohistochemical, flow cytometric and chromatographic techniques. Results: Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell-based testis-on-chip platform supported the maintenance of SALL4(+) and PLZF(+) spermatogonial stem/progenitor cells, for 42 days. The new setup improved in vitro spermatogenesis in terms of c-Kit(+) differentiating spermatogonia, VASA(+) total germ cells, the meiotic cells including spermatocytes and spermatids and testicular maturation by increasing testosterone concentration and improved tubular growth for 42 days in comparison with hanging drop and non-mesenchymal stem cell control. Conclusions: Future fertility preservation for male pediatric cancer survivors depends on the protection/expansion of spermatogonial stem/progenitor cell pool and induction of in vitro spermatogenesis. Our findings demonstrate that a novel bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell-based microfluidic testis-on-chip device supporting the maintenance of stem cells and spermatogenesis in prepubertal mice in vitro. This new, cell therapy-based microfluidic platform may contribute to a safe, precision-based cell and tissue banking protocols for prepubertal fertility restoration in future.