Xenotransplantation as a model for human testicular development

Marsida Hutka, Lee B. Smith, Rod T. Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The developing male reproductive system may be sensitive to disruption by a wide range of exogenous ‘endocrine disruptors’. In-utero exposure to environmental chemicals and pharmaceuticals have been hypothesized to have an impact in the increasing incidence of male reproductive disorders. The vulnerability to adverse effects as a consequence of such exposures is elevated during a specific ‘window of susceptibility’ in fetal life referred to as the masculinisation programing window (MPW). Exposures that occur during prepuberty, such as chemotherapy treatment for cancer during childhood, may also affect future fertility. Much of our current knowledge about fetal and early postnatal human testicular development derives from studies conducted in animal models predictive for humans. Therefore, over recent years, testicular transplantation has been employed as a ‘direct’ approach to understand the development of human fetal and prepubertal testis in health and disease. In this review we describe the potential use of human testis xenotransplantation to study testicular development and its application for (i) assessing the effects of environmental exposures in humans, and (ii) establishing fertility preservation options for prepubertal boys with cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
Early online date13 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


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