Underlying Mechanisms that Restore Spermatogenesis on Transplanting Healthy Niche Cells in Busulphan Treated Mouse Testis

Very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) exist among spermatogonial stem cells and survive chemotherapy in both mice and human testes because of their relatively quiescent nature. Our earlier study revealed that inter-tubular transplantation of niche (Sertoli or bone marrow derived mesenchymal) cells can restore spermatogenesis from endogenous surviving VSELs. Present study was undertaken to delineate the effect of busulphan on testicular stem/germ/Sertoli cells and to comprehend the underlying mechanisms of how transplanted niche cells restore spermatogenesis. Ploidy analysis showed an increase in diploid cells on D7 and VSELs (2-6 μm; LIN-/CD45-/SCA-1+) were detected at all time-points studied and were maximum on D15 after busulphan treatment. They were visualized in cell smears, expressed nuclear NANOG and SOX2 and BrdU uptake on D15 suggested they were proliferating in response to stress induced by busulphan. Verapamil-sensitive side population detected comprised SCA-1 positive stem cells (5 ± 0.02 % in normal and 8.6 ± 2.02 % in chemoablated testis). Adverse effects of busulphan on Sertoli cells by transcriptome analysis included altered expression of Gdnf, Scf, Fgf, Bmp4, androgen binding protein, components of blood-testis-barrier and also stem cells related signaling pathways including Wnt. GFP positive transplanted cells aligned themselves as 'neo-tubules' and were visualized adjacent to 'native' germ cells depleted tubules. 'Neo-tubules' provide paracrine support to endogenous VSELs to undergo spermatogenesis. Quantitative analysis was done to track proliferation (PCNA) and differentiation (MVH) of stem cells by immuno-localization studies at different time intervals. Results provide an alternative strategy to restore spermatogenesis in cancer survivors from endogenous stem cells which needs to be further researched.

Stem cell reviews. 2016 Sep 23 [Epub ahead of print]

Sandhya Anand, Deepa Bhartiya, Kalpana Sriraman, Alpna Mallick

Stem Cell Biology Department, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, JM Street, Parel, Mumbai, 400 012, India., Stem Cell Biology Department, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, JM Street, Parel, Mumbai, 400 012, India. .


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