Testis tissue xenografting is a powerful approach for the study of testis development and spermatogenesis, and for fertility preservation in immature individuals. In bovine testis xenografts, maturation and spermatogenesis are inefficient when compared to other species. To evaluate if exogenous modulation of the endocrine milieu in recipient mice will affect spermatogenic efficiency in xenografts from newborn calves, recipient mice were treated with the GnRH antagonist acyline (5 mg/kg s.c. every 2 weeks) to reduce testosterone production in xenografts, or with 6-N-propyl-2-thiouracil (PTU, 0.1% in drinking water for 4 weeks), to induce transient hypothyroidism in recipient mice respectively. Both treatments altered developmental parameters of testis xenografts and reduced germ cell differentiation. While the effects of acyline treatment can be attributed to inhibition of GnRH and gonadotropin action, lower Sertoli cell numbers and decreased seminiferous tubule length observed after PTU treatment were opposite to effects reported previously in rats. Regardless of treatment, Sertoli cells underwent only partial maturation in xenografts as Müllerian inhibiting substance and androgen receptor expression were lower than in donor and adult tissue controls respectively. In conclusion, although treatments did not result in improvement of maturation of bovine testis xenografts, the current study demonstrates that exogenous modulation of the endocrine milieu to affect xenograft development in recipient mice provides an accessible model to study endocrine control of spermatogenesis in large donor species.
Jose R Rodriguez-Sosa, Guilherme M J Costa, Rahul Rathi, Luiz R França and Ina Dobrinski
André F A Figueiredo, Natália Teixeira Wnuk, Amanda O Tavares, José Rafael Miranda, Rex A Hess, Luiz Renato de França and Guilherme M J Costa
The number of Sertoli cells (SCs) ultimately determines the upper limit of sperm production in the testis. Previous studies have shown that thyroid hormones (TH) receptors are abundantly expressed in developing SCs; therefore, it was highly significant to discover that transient neonatal hypothyroidism induced by the goitrogen 6-n-propyl-2-thiouracil (PTU) can extend SCs proliferation beyond the first 2 weeks postnatal and increase testis weight and sperm production. Further studies concluded that treatment must begin before day 8 post birth in rats. Recent studies, however, showed that SCs present in the transition region at the rete testis exhibit a more immature phenotype and have prolonged mitotic activity, which led to the hypothesis that SCs in this region will retain the capacity to respond to PTU treatment over a longer period of time. In the present study, male Wistar rats were treated with PTU from days 21 to 40 and were evaluated at 40 and 160 days of age. Similar to neonatal rat SCs, it was demonstrated that prepubertal SCs in the transition region have a high mitotic activity and are highly sensitive to TH levels. This delayed, transient hypothyroidism resulted in significantly increased testis weight, SCs number and daily sperm production. The results demonstrate for the first time that Sertoli cells showing plasticity in the transition region can be stimulated to increase proliferation and contribute to a late stage surge in testis weight and sperm output.