Maintenance of Sertoli Cell Number and Function in Immature Human Testicular Tissues Exposed to Platinum-Based Chemotherapy-Implications for Fertility Restoration

Gabriele Matilionyte, Melissa D. Tharmalingam, Iris Sanou, Federica Lopes, Sheila Lane, Jan-Bernd Stukenborg, Norah Spears, Richard A. Anderson, Rod T. Mitchell (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Abstract

Background: Retrospective studies in adult survivors of childhood cancer show long-term impacts of exposure to alkylating chemotherapy on future fertility. We recently demonstrated germ cell loss in immature human testicular tissues following exposure to platinum-based chemotherapeutic drugs. This study investigated the effects of platinum-based chemotherapy exposure on the somatic Sertoli cell population in human fetal and pre-pubertal testicular tissues.

Methods: Human fetal (n = 23; 14-22 gestational weeks) testicular tissue pieces were exposed to cisplatin (0.5 or 1.0 μg/ml) or vehicle for 24 h in vitro and analysed 24-240 h post-exposure or 12 weeks after xenografting. Human pre-pubertal (n = 10; 1-12 years) testicular tissue pieces were exposed to cisplatin (0.5 μg/ml), carboplatin (5 μg/ml) or vehicle for 24 h in vitro and analysed 24-240 h post-exposure; exposure to carboplatin at 10-times the concentration of cisplatin reflects the relative clinical doses given to patients. Immunohistochemistry was performed for SOX9 and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) expression and quantification was carried out to assess effects on Sertoli cell number and function respectively. AMH and inhibin B was measured in culture medium collected post-exposure to assess effects on Sertoli cell function.

Results: Sertoli cell (SOX9+ve) number was maintained in cisplatin-exposed human fetal testicular tissues (7,647 ± 459 vs. 7,767 ± 498 cells/mm2; p > 0.05) at 240 h post-exposure. No effect on inhibin B (indicator of Sertoli cell function) production was observed at 96 h after cisplatin (0.5 and 1.0 μg/ml) exposure compared to control (21 ± 5 (0.5 μg/ml cisplatin) vs. 23 ± 7 (1.0 μg/ml cisplatin) vs. 25 ± 7 (control) ng/ml, p > 0.05). Xenografting of cisplatin-exposed (0.5 μg/ml) human fetal testicular tissues had no long-term effect on Sertoli cell number or function (percentage seminiferous area stained for SOX9 and AMH, respectively), compared with non-exposed tissues. Sertoli cell number was maintained in human pre-pubertal testicular tissues following exposure to either 0.5 μg/ml cisplatin (6,723 ± 1,647 cells/mm2) or 5 μg/ml carboplatin (7,502 ± 627 cells/mm2) compared to control (6,592 ± 1,545 cells/mm2).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates maintenance of Sertoli cell number and function in immature human testicular tissues exposed to platinum-based chemotherapeutic agents. The maintenance of a functional Sertoli cell environment following chemotherapy exposure suggests that fertility restoration by spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) transplant may be possible in boys facing platinum-based cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number825734
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Toxicology
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • human
  • testis
  • cisplatin
  • carboplatin
  • sertoli cells
  • pre-pubertal
  • fetal
  • fertility

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