Eliminating acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells from human testicular cell cultures A pilot study

A testicular cell culture system allows for efficient propagation of spermatogonial stem cells from a biopsy for fertility preservation and also eliminates contaminating malignant acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells.


Hooman Sadri-Ardekani, M.D., Ph.D., Christa H. Homburg, M.Sc, Toni M. M. van Capel, B.Sc., Henk van den Berg, M.D., Ph.D., Fulco van der Veen, M.D., Ph.D., C. Ellen van der Schoot, M.D., Ph.D., Ans M. van Pelt, Ph.D., Sjoerd Repping, Ph.D.

Volume 101, Issue 4, Pages 1072-1078.e1



To study whether acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells survive in a human testicular cell culture system.


Experimental laboratory study.


Reproductive biology laboratory, academic medical center.


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells from three patients and testicular cells from three other patients.


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells were cultured alone or in combination with testicular cells, at various concentrations, in a system that has recently been developed to propagate human spermatogonial stem cells.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Viability of ALL and testicular cells during culture was evaluated by flow cytometry using markers for live/dead cells. Furthermore, the presence of ALL cells among testicular cells was determined by highly sensitive (1:10,000 to 1:100,000 cells) patient-specific antigen-receptor minimal residual disease polymerase chain reaction. The presence of spermatogonia at the end of culture was determined by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction for ZBTB16, UCHL1, and GPR125.


The ALL cells cultured separately did not survive beyond 14 days of culture. When cultured together with testicular cells, even at extremely high initial concentrations (40% ALL cells), ALL cells were undetectable beyond 26 days of culture. Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction confirmed the presence of spermatogonia at the end of the culture period.


Our pilot study shows that the described testicular cell culture system not only allows for efficient propagation of spermatogonial stem cells but also eliminates contaminating ALL cells.

Read the full text at: http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(14)00045-4/fulltext