Spermatogonial stem cells: unlimited potential

Reprod Fertil Dev. 2009;21(1):15-21. doi: 10.1071/rd08221.


Recent reports have demonstrated that adult cells can be reprogrammed to pluripotency, but mostly with genes delivered using retroviruses. Some of the genes are cancer causing; thus, these adult-derived embryonic stem (ES)-like cells cannot be used for therapy to cure human diseases. Remarkably, it has also been demonstrated recently by several groups that, in mice, spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can be reprogrammed to ES-like cells without the necessity of exogenously added genes. SSCs constitute one of the most important stem cell systems in the body, not only because they produce spermatozoa that transmit genetic information from generation to generation, but also because of the recent studies showing their remarkable plasticity. Very little is known about SSCs in humans, except for the earlier work of Clermont and colleagues who demonstrated that there are A(dark) and A(pale) spermatogonia, with the A(dark) referred to as the reserve stem cells and the A(pale) being the renewing stem cells. We now demonstrate that G protein-coupled receptor 125 (GPR125) may be a marker for human SSCs. Putative human SSCs can also be reprogrammed to pluripotency. We were able to achieve this result without the addition of genes, suggesting that human SSCs have considerable potential for cell-based, autologous organ regeneration therapy for various diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Receptors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Spermatogonia / cytology*


  • GFRA1 protein, human
  • GPR125 protein, mouse
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Receptors
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled