Cisplatin effects on the human fetal testis - establishing the sensitive period for (pre)spermatogonial loss and relevance for fertility preservation in pre-pubertal boys

Gabriele Matilionyte, Michael Rimmer, Norah Spears, Richard A Anderson, Rod T Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Exposure to chemotherapy during childhood can impair future fertility. Studies using in vitro culture have shown exposure to platinum-based alkylating-like chemotherapy reduces the germ cell number in the human fetal testicular tissues. We aimed to determine whether effects of exposure to cisplatin on the germ cell sub-populations are dependent on the gestational age of the fetus and what impact this might have on the utility of using human fetal testis cultures to model chemotherapy exposure in childhood testis.

Methods: We utilised an in vitro culture system to culture pieces of human fetal testicular tissues (total n=23 fetuses) from three different gestational age groups (14-16 (early), 17-19 (mid) and 20-22 (late) gestational weeks; GW) of the second trimester. Tissues were exposed to cisplatin or vehicle control for 24 hours, analysing the tissues 72 and 240 hours post-exposure. Number of germ cells and their sub-populations, including gonocytes and (pre)spermatogonia, were quantified.

Results: Total germ cell number and number of both germ cell sub-populations were unchanged at 72 hours post-exposure to cisplatin in the testicular tissues from fetuses of the early (14-16 GW) and late (20-22 GW) second trimester. In the testicular tissues from fetuses of mid (17-19 GW) second trimester, total germ cell and gonocyte number were significantly reduced, whilst (pre)spermatogonial number was unchanged. At 240 hours post-exposure, the total number of germ cells and that of both sub-populations was significantly reduced in the testicular tissues from fetuses of mid- and late-second trimester, whilst germ cells in early-second trimester tissues were unchanged at this time-point.

Conclusions: In vitro culture of human fetal testicular tissues can be a useful model system to investigate the effects of chemotherapy-exposure on germ cell sub-populations during pre-puberty. Interpretation of the results of such studies in terms of relevance to later (infant and pre-pubertal) developmental stages should take into account the changes in germ cell composition and periods of germ cell sensitivity in the human fetal testis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number914443
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • human
  • fetal
  • testis
  • cisplatin
  • germ cell
  • fertility preservation

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