Germline stem cells: toward the regeneration of spermatogenesis

Fertil Steril. 2014 Jan;101(1):3-13. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.10.052. Epub 2013 Dec 5.


Improved therapies for cancer and other conditions have resulted in a growing population of long-term survivors. Infertility is an unfortunate side effect of some cancer therapies that impacts the quality of life of survivors who are in their reproductive or prereproductive years. Some of these patients have the opportunity to preserve their fertility using standard technologies that include sperm, egg, or embryo banking, followed by IVF and/or ET. However, these options are not available to all patients, especially the prepubertal patients who are not yet producing mature gametes. For these patients, there are several stem cell technologies in the research pipeline that may give rise to new fertility options and allow infertile patients to have their own biological children. We will review the role of stem cells in normal spermatogenesis as well as experimental stem cell-based techniques that may have potential to generate or regenerate spermatogenesis and sperm. We will present these technologies in the context of the fertility preservation paradigm, but we anticipate that they will have broad implications for the assisted reproduction field.

Keywords: Male fertility; male infertility; regenerative medicine; spermatogonial stem cells; stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Adult Stem Cells / transplantation
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Germ Cells / physiology*
  • Germ Cells / transplantation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / trends
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Spermatozoa / transplantation