Background: Cancer treatment of prepubertal patients impacts future fertility due to the abolition of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). In macaques, spermatogenesis could be regenerated by intratesticular transplantation of SSCs, but no studies have involved cytotoxic treatment before puberty and transplantation after puberty, which would be the most likely clinical scenario.
Objectives: To evaluate donor-derived functional sperm production after SSC transplantation to adult monkeys that had received testicular irradiation during the prepubertal period.
Materials and methods: We obtained prepubertal testis tissue by unilaterally castrating six prepubertal monkeys and 2 weeks later irradiated the remaining testes with 6.9 Gy. However, because spermatogenic recovery was observed, we irradiated them again 14 months later with 7 Gy. Three of the monkeys were treated with GnRH-antagonist (GnRH-ant) for 8 weeks. The cryopreserved testis cells from the castrated testes were then allogeneically transplanted into the intact testes of all monkeys. Tissues were harvested 10 months later for analyses.
Results: In three of the six monkeys, 61%, 38%, and 11% of the epididymal sperm DNA were of the donor genotype. The ability to recover donor-derived sperm production was not enhanced by the GnRH-ant pretreatment. However, the extent of filling seminiferous tubules during the transplantation procedure was correlated with the eventual production of donor spermatozoa. The donor epididymal spermatozoa from the recipient with 61% donor contribution were capable of fertilizing rhesus eggs and forming embryos. Although the transplantation was done into the rete testis, two GnRH-ant-treated monkeys, which did not produce donor-derived epididymal spermatozoa, displayed irregular tubular cords in the interstitium containing testicular spermatozoa derived from the transplanted donor cells.
Discussion and conclusion: The results further support that sperm production can be restored in non-human primates from tissues cryopreserved prior to prepubertal and post-pubertal gonadotoxic treatment by transplantation of these testicular cells after puberty into seminiferous tubules.
Keywords: GnRH-antagonist; intracytoplasmic sperm injection; radiation; spermatogenesis; transplantation.
© 2021 American Society of Andrology and European Academy of Andrology.