Research Article

Autologous grafting of cryopreserved prepubertal rhesus testis produces sperm and offspring

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Science  22 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6433, pp. 1314-1319
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2914

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Preserving male fertility

Before chemotherapy or radiation treatment, sperm from adult men can be cryopreserved for future use. However, this is not possible for prepubertal boys. Fayomi et al. grafted cryopreserved testicular tissue from castrated pubertal rhesus macaques, placing each animal's own testis sections under the skin of the back or scrotum (see the Perspective by Neuhaus and Schlatt). Grafts grew, produced testosterone, and were able to generate sperm that could fertilize oocytes, in one case resulting in a successful pregnancy. The results hold promise for preserving human fertility, for example, after childhood cancer treatments.

Science, this issue p. 1314; see also p. 1283

Abstract

Testicular tissue cryopreservation is an experimental method to preserve the fertility of prepubertal patients before they initiate gonadotoxic therapies for cancer or other conditions. Here we provide the proof of principle that cryopreserved prepubertal testicular tissues can be autologously grafted under the back skin or scrotal skin of castrated pubertal rhesus macaques and matured to produce functional sperm. During the 8- to 12-month observation period, grafts grew and produced testosterone. Complete spermatogenesis was confirmed in all grafts at the time of recovery. Graft-derived sperm were competent to fertilize rhesus oocytes, leading to preimplantation embryo development, pregnancy, and the birth of a healthy female baby. Pending the demonstration that similar results are obtained in noncastrated recipients, testicular tissue grafting may be applied in the clinic.

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