Rat testicle cells make sperm after being frozen for 23 years

Pre-pubescent kids who grow to be infertile due to most cancers remedy could possibly make sperm after reimplanting frozen testicular tissue, if animal analysis interprets to people

Health 10 Might 2022

Cross section of infertile mouse testis showing previously frozen transplanted rat germ cells and sperm. Frozen testicular tissue still viable after two decades.

Rat germ cells and sperm after implantation in a mouse testicle

Eoin Whelan, Whelan et al., 2022, PLOS Biology, CC-BY 4.0

Rat testicle cells that had been frozen for 23 years have produced sperm after being implanted into mice.

The findings counsel that kids who’ve testicle tissue frozen earlier than most cancers remedy could possibly have the tissue reimplanted to allow them to someday have their very own organic kids by means of in vitro fertilisation (IVF), says Eoin Whelan on the College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Chemotherapy to deal with most cancers can kill stem cells within the testicles that make sperm. Adults can have sperm samples frozen before this treatment, however that isn’t an choice for kids who’re but to undergo puberty.


In such instances, some clinics have been eradicating and freezing small samples of kids’s immature testicle tissue within the hope that, if reimplanted when they’re adults, it is going to mature and begin making sperm. Not less than one clinic, situated in Belgium, has been approved to start such reimplantation surgery.

Whelan and his colleagues’ examine provides some trigger for optimism. They took benefit of stem cells from rats that had been remoted and frozen 23 years earlier, thawing and implanting them into the testes of mice.

The mice had been handled with a drug that killed their very own sperm-making cells – which is just too poisonous to make use of on rats – and had faulty immune programs so that they couldn’t reject the transplant. For comparability, the identical process was additionally achieved in different mice utilizing rat cells that had been eliminated and instantly implanted, in addition to with rat cells that had been frozen a number of months in the past.

When the mice’s testes had been examined, the 23-year-old stem cells had survived and developed into teams of sperm-producing cells, though they made about 20-fold fewer teams of cells than the contemporary tissue or just lately frozen tissue. The teams of cells from the 23-year-old implants had been making mature sperm, however each made a couple of third as many as those derived from implants of contemporary or just lately frozen cells.

Nonetheless, if the identical outcomes occur in folks, contributors may produce some sperm even when numbers are low, says Whelan. “You actually solely want one viable sperm to succeed.”

It’s unclear if the outcomes will translate to folks, as there are some variations between the group’s strategies and people presently utilized by fertility clinics, says Rod Mitchell on the College of Edinburgh, UK.

The researchers froze remoted testicle stem cells, whereas clinics are freezing entire tissue samples. Additionally they took the cells from grownup rats, whereas clinics need to take tissue from kids who haven’t but gone by means of puberty. “There are loads of unknowns,” says Mitchell.

Journal reference: PLoS Biology, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001618

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