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

Effect of donor age on success of spermatogenesis in feline testis xenografts

Yeunhee Kim A , Vimal Selvaraj A , Budhan Pukazhenthi B and Alexander J. Travis A C

A Baker Institute for Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

B Department of Reproductive Sciences, Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 19(7) 869-876
Submitted: 21 March 2007  Accepted: 19 July 2007   Published: 6 September 2007


Ectopic xenografting of ‘donor’ feline testicular tissue into a ‘recipient’ immunodeficient mouse is a promising tool to preserve the male genome from genetically valuable felids. To define parameters under which the technique can succeed, we compared the effect of donor age on xenograft spermatogenesis among four age groups of domestic cats (Felis catus; age range 8 weeks to 15 months). In all cases, fresh tissue was grafted into castrated mice and collected 10, 30 and 50 weeks later. The percentage of xenografts recovered decreased as donor age increased. Mature testicular spermatozoa were observed in xenografts from the 8 and 9–16 week age groups; only a single 7-month-old donor produced elongating spermatids and xenografts from donors ≥ 8 months of age degenerated. Seminal vesicle weight, an indicator of bioactive testosterone, was not significantly different between donors aged 8 weeks to 7 months and controls, suggesting that xenograft Leydig cells were ultimately functional even in the 5–7 month age group. Regardless of donor age, production of mature spermatozoa from xenografts was markedly delayed compared with controls. Comparison of xenografts that produced sperm with normal controls revealed a decrease in tubule cross-sections having post-meiotic germ cells. Together, these results indicate that the maximum practical donor age was just before the onset of puberty and that even successful xenografts had abnormalities in spermatogenesis.


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