Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

Spermatogonia: origin, physiology and prospects for conservation and manipulation of the male germ line

Jens Ehmcke A , Karin Hübner B , Hans R. Schöler B and Stefan Schlatt A C

A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Center for Research in Reproductive Biology, W952 Biomedical Science Tower, 3500 Terrace Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.

B Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Mendelstrasse 7, D-48149 Münster, Germany.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 18(2) 7-12
Submitted: 21 September 2005  Accepted: 21 September 2005   Published: 14 December 2005


In recent years, the scientific community has become increasingly interested in spermatogonia. Methodological breakthroughs, such as germ cell transplantation and spermatogonial culture combined with novel germ line transfection strategies, have provided interesting new opportunities for studying the physiology of spermatogonial stem cells and their interaction with the stem cell niche. Furthermore, intense research into pluripotent and adult stem cells has generated new insight into the differentiation pathway of germ line stem cells and has opened new perspectives for stem cell technologies. The present review briefly introduces the physiology of spermatogonial stem cells and discusses future directions of basic research and practical approaches applicable to livestock maintenance and animal reproduction.


Capel B.2000The battle of the sexes.Mech. Dev.9289103doi:10.1016/S0925-4773(99)00327-5Pubmed Abstract

Chuma S.Kanatsu-Shinohara M.Inoue K.Ogonuki N.Miki H.Toyokuni S.Hosokawa M.Nakatsuji N.Ogura A.Shinohara T.2005Spermatogenesis from epiblast and primordial germ cells following transplantation into postnatal mouse testis.Development132117122doi:10.1242/DEV.01555Pubmed Abstract

Clermont Y.1969Two classes of spermatogonial stem cells in the monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops).Am. J. Anat.1265771doi:10.1002/AJA.1001260106Pubmed Abstract

Clermont Y.Antar M.1973Duration of the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium and the spermatogonial renewal in the monkey Macaca arctoides.Am. J. Anat.136153165doi:10.1002/AJA.1001360204Pubmed Abstract

Clermont Y.Leblond C. P.1959Differentiation and renewal of spermatogonia in the monkey, Macacus rhesus.Am. J. Anat.104237273doi:10.1002/AJA.1001040204Pubmed Abstract

Creemers L. B.den Ouden K.van Pelt A. Rooij D. G.2002Maintenance of adult mouse type A spermatogonia in vitro: influence of serum and growth factors and comparison with prepubertal spermatogonial cell culture.Reproduction124791799doi:10.1530/REP.0.1240791Pubmed Abstract

de Rooij D. G.van de Kant H. J.Dol R.Wagemaker G.van Buul P. P.van Duijn-Goedhart Jong F. H.Broerse J. J.2002Long-term effects of irradiation before adulthood on reproductive function in the male rhesus monkey.Biol. Reprod.66486494Pubmed Abstract

Dobrinski I.2005Germ cell transplantation and testis tissue xenografting in domestic animals.Anim. Reprod. Sci.89137145

Dobrinski I.Avarbock M. R.Brinster R. L.2000Germ cell transplantation from large domestic animals into mouse testes.Mol. Reprod. Dev.57270279
doi:10.1002/1098-2795(200011)57:3<270::AID-MRD9>3.0.CO;2-ZPubmed Abstract

Ehmcke J.Luetjens C. M.Schlatt S.2005aClonal organization of proliferating spermatogonial stem cells in adult males of two species of non-human primates, Macaca mulatta and Callithrix jacchus.Biol. Reprod.72293300doi:10.1095/BIOLREPROD.104.033092

Ehmcke J.Simorangkir D. R.Schlatt S.2005bIdentification of the starting point for spermatogenesis and characterization of the testicular stem cell in adult male rhesus monkeys.Hum. Reprod.2011851193doi:10.1093/HUMREP/DEH766Pubmed Abstract

Feng L. X.Chen Y.Dettin L.Pera R. A.Herr J. C.Goldberg E.Dym M.2002Generation and in vitro differentiation of a spermatogonial cell line.Science297392395doi:10.1126/SCIENCE.1073162Pubmed Abstract

Fioroni P. 1987. ‘Allgemeine und vergleichende Embryologie.’ (Springer-Verlag: Berlin, Germany.)

Fouquet J. P.Dadoune J. O.1986Renewal of spermatogonia in the monkey (Macaca fascicularis).Biol. Reprod.35199207Pubmed Abstract

Geijsen N.Horoschak M.Kitai K.Gribnau J.Eggan K.Daley G. Q.2004Derivation of embryonic germ cells and male gametes from embryonic stem cells.Nature427148154doi:10.1038/NATURE02247Pubmed Abstract

Hill J. R.Dobrinski I.2006Male germ cell transplantation in lifestock.Reprod. Fertil. Dev.181318

Honaramooz A.Snedaker A.Boiani M.Scholer H.Dobrinski I.Schlatt S.2002Sperm from neonatal mammalian testes grafted in mice.Nature418778781
doi:10.1038/NATURE00918Pubmed Abstract

Hubner K.Fuhrmann G.Christenson L. K.Kehler J.Reinbold R.De La Fuente R.Wood J.Strauss, J. F.3rdBoiani M.Scholer H. R.2003Derivation of oocytes from mouse embryonic stem cells.Science30012511256doi:10.1126/SCIENCE.1083452Pubmed Abstract

Johnson J.Bagley J.Skaznik-Wikiel M.Lee H. J.Adams G. al.2005Oocyte generation in adult mammalian ovaries by putative germ cells in bone marrow and peripheral blood.Cell122303315doi:10.1016/J.CELL.2005.06.031Pubmed Abstract

Kamischke A.Kuhlmann M.Weinbauer G. F.Luetjens C. M.Yeung C. H.Kronholz H. L.Nieschlag E.2003Gonadal protection from radiation by GnRH antagonist or recombinant human FSH: a controlled trial in a male nonhuman primate (Macaca fascicularis).J. Endocrinol.179183194doi:10.1677/JOE.0.1790183Pubmed Abstract

Kluin P. M.Kramer M. Rooij D. G.1983Testicular development in Macaca irus after birth.Int. J. Androl.62543Pubmed Abstract

McLaren A.2003Primordial germ cells in the mouse.Dev. Biol.262115doi:10.1016/S0012-1606(03)00214-8Pubmed Abstract

Nagano M.Brinster R. L.1998Spermatogonial transplantation and reconstitution of donor cell spermatogenesis in recipient mice.APMIS1064757Pubmed Abstract

Nagano M.Ryu B. Y.Brinster C. J.Avarbock M. R.Brinster R. L.2003Maintenance of mouse male germ line stem cells in vitro.Biol. Reprod.6822072214

Nayernia K.Drabent B.Meinhardt A.Adham I. M.Schwandt I.Muller C.Sancken U.Kleene K. C.Engel W.2005Triple knockouts reveal gene interactions affecting fertility of male mice.Mol. Reprod. Dev.70406416
doi:10.1002/MRD.20227Pubmed Abstract

Nordhoff V.Schlatt S.2003Present and future options for the preservation of testis tissue and function.Endocr. Dev.5136155Pubmed Abstract

Orwig K. E.Schlatt S.2005Cryopreservation and transplantation of spermatogonia and testicular tissue for preservation of male fertility.J. Natl Cancer Inst. Monogr.345156Pubmed Abstract

Radford J.2003Restoration of fertility after treatment for cancer.Horm. Res.59Suppl. 12123doi:10.1159/000067840Pubmed Abstract

Radford J. A.Shalet S. M.Lieberman B. A.1999Fertility after treatment for cancer.BMJ319935936Pubmed Abstract

Schlatt S.Loveland K.deKretser D. M.1996Discriminative analysis of Sertoli and peritubular cells and their proliferation in vitro: evidence for FSH-mediated contact inhibition of Sertoli cell mitosis.Biol. Reprod.55227235Pubmed Abstract

Schlatt S.Foppiani L.Rolf C.Weinbauer G. F.Nieschlag E.2002aGerm cell transplantation into X-irradiated monkey testes.Hum. Reprod.175562doi:10.1093/HUMREP/17.1.55Pubmed Abstract

Schlatt S.Kim S.Gosden R.2002bSpermatogenesis and steroidogenesis in mouse, hamster and monkey testicular tissue after cryopreservation and heterotropic grafting.Reproduction124323329Pubmed Abstract

Schlatt S.Honaramooz A.Boiani M.Schöler H. R.Dobrinski I.2003Progeny from sperm obtained after ectopic grafting of neonatal mouse testes.Biol. Reprod.6823312335doi:10.1095/BIOLREPROD.102.014894Pubmed Abstract

Shinohara T.Inoue K.Ogonuki N.Kanatsu-Shinohara M.Miki al.2002Birth of offspring following transplantation of cryopreserved immature testicular pieces and in-vitro microinsemination.Hum. Reprod.1730393045doi:10.1093/HUMREP/17.12.3039

Toyooka Y.Tsunekawa N.Akasu R.Noce T.2003Embryonic stem cells can form germ cells in vitro.Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA10011 45711 462doi:10.1073/PNAS.1932826100Pubmed Abstract

van Pelt A. M.Roepers-Gajadien H. L.Gademan I. S.Creemers L. Rooij D. G.van Dissel-Emiliani F. M.2002Establishment of cell lines with rat spermatogonial stem cell characteristics.Endocrinology14318451850doi:10.1210/EN.143.5.1845Pubmed Abstract

Wallace W. H.Thomson A. B.2003Preservation of fertility in children treated for cancer.Arch. Dis. Child.88493496doi:10.1136/ADC.88.6.493Pubmed Abstract

Zhengwei Y.McLachlan R. I.Bremner W. J.Wreford N. G.1997Quantitative (stereological) study of the normal spermatogenesis in the adult monkey (Macaca fascicularis).J. Androl.18681687Pubmed Abstract

Full Text PDF (202 KB) Export Citation