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Biol Reprod. 2003 Jan;68(1):272-81.

Proliferation and differentiation of bovine type A spermatogonia during long-term culture.

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Department of Endocrinology, Faculty of Biology, University Medical Center Utrecht, 3548 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The present study was aimed at developing a method for long-term culture of bovine type A spermatogonia. Testes from 5-mo-old calves were used, and pure populations of type A spermatogonia were isolated. Cells were cultured in minimal essential medium (MEM) or KSOM (potassium-rich medium prepared according to the simplex optimization method) and different concentrations of fetal calf serum (FCS) for 2-4 wk at 32 degrees C or 37 degrees C. Culture in MEM resulted in more viable cells and more proliferation than culture in KSOM, and better results were obtained at 37 degrees C than at 32 degrees C. After 1 wk of culture in the absence of serum, only 20% of the cells were alive. However, in the presence of 2.5% FCS, approximately 80% of cells were alive and proliferating. Higher concentrations of FCS only enhanced numbers of somatic cells. In long-term culture, spermatogonia continued to proliferate, and eventually, type A spermatogonial colonies were formed. The majority of colonies consisted mostly of groups of cells connected by intercellular bridges. Most of the cells in these colonies underwent differentiation because they were c-kit positive, and ultimately, cells with morphological and molecular characteristics of spermatocytes and spermatids were formed. Occasionally, large round colonies consisting of single, c-kit-negative, type A spermatogonia (presumably spermatogonial stem cells) were observed. For the first time to our knowledge, a method has been developed to allow proliferation and differentiation of highly purified type A spermatogonia, including spermatogonial stem cells during long-term culture.

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