Cryopreservation of testicular tissue or testicular cell suspension: a pivotal step in fertility preservation

Jaime Anibal Onofre Meza, Yoni Baert, Katrien Faes, Ellen Goossens

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific reviewpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Germ cell depletion caused by chemical or physical toxicity, disease or genetic predisposition can occur at any age. Although semen cryopreservation is the first reflex for preserving male fertility, this cannot help out prepubertal boys. Yet, these boys do have spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) that able to produce sperm at the start of puberty, which allows them to safeguard their fertility through testicular tissue (TT) cryopreservation. SSC transplantation (SSCT), TT grafting and recent advances in in vitro spermatogenesis have opened new possibilities to restore fertility in humans. However, these techniques are still at a research stage and their efficiency depends on the amount of SSCs available for fertility restoration. Therefore, maintaining the number of SSCs is a critical step in human fer- tility preservation. Standardizing a successful cryopreservation method for TT and testicular cell suspensions (TCSs) is most important before any clinical application of fertility restoration could be successful.
OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: This review gives an overview of existing cryopreservation protocols used in different animal models and humans. Cell recovery, cell viability, tissue integrity and functional assays are taken into account. Additionally, biosafety and current perspectives in male fertility preservation are discussed.
SEARCH METHODS: An extensive PubMED and MEDline database search was conducted. Relevant studies linked to the topic were identified by the search terms: cryopreservation, male fertility preservation, (immature)testicular tissue, testicular cell suspension, sperm- atogonial stem cell, gonadotoxicity, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
OUTCOMES: The feasibility of fertility restoration techniques using frozen-thawed TT and TCS has been proven in animal models. Efficient protocols for cryopreserving human TT exist and are currently applied in the clinic. For TCSs, the highest post-thaw viability reported after vitrification is 55.6 ± 23.8%. Yet, functional proof of fertility restoration in the human is lacking. In addition, few to no data
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-761
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2016


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