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

Germ cell survival and differentiation after xenotransplantation of testis tissue from three endangered species: Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), Cuvier’s gazelle (Gazella cuvieri) and Mohor gazelle (G. dama mhorr)

Lucía Arregui A C , Ina Dobrinski B and Eduardo R. S. Roldan A D

A Reproductive Ecology and Biology Group, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), C/José Gutierrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain.

B Department of Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary AB T2N 4N1, Canada.

C Present address: Department of Biology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, C/Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

D Corresponding author. Email: roldane@mncn.csic.es

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 26(6) 817-826 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD12411
Submitted: 31 December 2012  Accepted: 13 May 2013   Published: 14 June 2013

Abstract

The use of assisted reproductive techniques for endangered species is a major goal for conservation. One of these techniques, testis tissue xenografting, allows for the development of spermatozoa from animals that die before reaching sexual maturity. To assess the potential use of this technique with endangered species, testis tissue from six Iberian lynxes (one fetus, two perinatal cubs, two 6-month-old and one 2-year-old lynx), two Cuvier’s gazelle fetuses and one 8-month-old Mohor gazelle were transplanted ectopically into nude mice. Tissue from the lynx fetus, perinatal cubs and 2-year-old donors degenerated, whereas spermatogonia were present in 15% of seminiferous tubules more than 70 weeks after grafting in transplanted testis tissue from 6-month-old donors. Seminal vesicle weights (indicative of testosterone production) increased over time in mice transplanted with tissue from 6-month-old lynxes. Progression of spermatogenesis was observed in xenografts from gazelles and was donor age dependent. Tissue from Cuvier’s gazelle fetuses contained spermatocytes 40 weeks after grafting. Finally, round spermatids were found 28 weeks after transplantation in grafts from the 8-month-old Mohor gazelle. This is the first time that xenotransplantation of testicular tissue has been performed with an endangered felid and the first successful xenotransplantation in an endangered species. Our results open important options for the preservation of biological diversity.

Additional keywords: conservation, testicular tissue, threatened species, xenografting.


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