Stem cell and niche development in the postnatal rat testis

Dev Biol. 2003 Nov 15;263(2):253-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2003.07.010.


Adult tissue stem cells self-renew and differentiate in a way that exactly meets the biological demand of the dependent tissue. We evaluated spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) activity in the developing rat testis and the quality and accessibility of the stem cell niche in wild type, and two busulfan-treated models of rat pup recipient testes using an SSC transplantation technique as a functional assay. While our results revealed a 69-fold increase in stem cell activity during rat testis development from neonate to adult, only moderate changes in SSC concentration were observed, and stem cells from neonate, pup, and adult donor testes produce spermatogenic colonies of similar size. Analysis of the stem cell niche in recipient rat testes demonstrated that pup testes support high levels of donor stem cell engraftment when endogenous germ cells are removed or compromised by busulfan treatment. Fertility was established when rat pup donor testis cells were transplanted into fetal- or pup-busulfan-treated recipient rat pup testes, and the donor genotype was transmitted to subsequent generations. These results provide insight into stem cell/niche interactions in the rat testis and demonstrate that techniques originally developed in mice can be extended to other species for regenerative medicine and germline modification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Busulfan / pharmacology
  • Fertility
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatogonia / transplantation
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Testis / cytology*


  • Busulfan