Open Access Characterization and Functionality of Proliferative Human Sertoli Cells

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Abstract:

It has long been thought that mammalian Sertoli cells are terminally differentiated and nondividing postpuberty. For most previous in vitro studies immature rodent testes have been the source of Sertoli cells and these have shown little proliferative ability when cultured. We have isolated and characterized Sertoli cells from human cadaveric testes from seven donors ranging from 12 to 36 years of age. The cells proliferated readily in vitro under the optimized conditions used with a doubling time of approximately 4 days. Nuclear 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU) incorporation confirmed that dividing cells represented the majority of the population. Classical Sertoli cell ultrastructural features, lipid droplet accumulation, and immunoexpression of GATA-4, Sox9, and the FSH receptor (FSHr) were observed by electron and fluorescence microscopy, respectively. Flow cytometry revealed the expression of GATA-4 and Sox9 by more than 99% of the cells, and abundant expression of a number of markers indicative of multipotent mesenchymal cells. Low detection of endogenous alkaline phosphatase activity after passaging showed that few peritubular myoid cells were present. GATA-4 and SOX9 expression were confirmed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), along with expression of stem cell factor (SCF), glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), and bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4). Tight junctions were formed by Sertoli cells plated on transwell inserts coated with fibronectin as revealed by increased transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) and polarized secretion of the immunoregulatory protein, galectin-1. These primary Sertoli cell populations could be expanded dramatically in vitro and could be cryopreserved. The results show that functional human Sertoli cells can be propagated in vitro from testicular cells isolated from adult testis. The proliferative human Sertoli cells should have important applications in studying infertility, reproductive toxicology, testicular cancer, and spermatogenesis, and due to their unique biological properties potentially could be useful in cell therapy.

Keywords: Blood‐testis barrier (BTB); Galectin-1; Sertoli cells; Sox9

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/096368910X536563

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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