Fertility preservation for male childhood cancer survivors not yet capable of producing mature spermatozoa, relies on experimental approaches such as testicular explant culture. Although the first steps in somatic maturation can be observed in human testicular explant cultures, germ cell depletion is a common obstacle. Hence, understanding the spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) niche environment and in particular, specific components such as the seminiferous basement membrane (BM) will allow progression of testicular explant cultures. Here, we revealed that the seminiferous BM is established from 6 weeks post conception with the expression of laminin alpha 1 (LAMA 1) and type IV collagen, which persist as key components throughout development. With prepubertal testicular explant culture we found that seminiferous LAMA 1 expression is disrupted and depleted with culture time correlating with germ cell loss. These findings highlight the importance of LAMA 1 for the human SSC niche and its sensitivity to culture conditions.
Keywords: Sertoli cells; basal membrane; germ cells; infertility; late effects; seminiferous tubules; spermatogonia; stem cell niche.