Testis on a chip - A microfluidic three-dimensional culture system for the development of spermatogenesis in-vitro

Ali Abumadighem, Sholom Shuchat, Eitan Lunenfeld, Gilad Yossifon, Mahmoud Huleihel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research presents a novel testis-on-a-chip (ToC) platform. Testicular cells are enzymatically isolated from the seminiferous tubules of sexually immature mice, seeded in a methylcellulose gel and cultured in a microfluidic chip. The unique design sandwiches the soft methylcellulose between stiffer agar support gels. The cells develop into spheroids continuing to proliferate and differentiate. After seven weeks of culture the cells have over 95% viability. Confocal microscopy of the developed spheroids reveals a structure containing the various stages of spermatogenesis up to and including meiosis II: premeiotic, meiotic and post-meiotic germ cells. The spheroid structure also contains the supporting Sertoli and peritubular cells. The responsiveness of the system to the addition of testosterone and retinoic acid to the culture medium during the experiment was also investigated. As a benchmark, the ToC is compared to a conventional three-dimensional methylcellulose cell culture system in a well plate. Analysis via fluorescence-activated cell sorting shows more haploid cells in the chip as compared to the plates. Immunofluorescence staining after seven weeks of culture shows more differentiated cells in the chip as compared to the well plate. This demonstrates the feasibility of our platform as well as its advantages. This research opens new horizons for the study and realization of spermatogenesis in-vitro. It can also enable the implementation of microfluidic technologies in future therapeutic strategies for pre-pubertal male fertility preservation and adults with maturation arrest. Lastly, it can serve as a platform for drug and toxin testing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035004
JournalBiofabrication
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • in vitro maturation of spermatogonial cells
  • male-fertility
  • microfluidics
  • organ/organoid-on-a-chip
  • post-cancer male fertility
  • spermatogenesis

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