Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) continuously support spermatogenesis after puberty. However, accumulating evidence suggests that SSCs differ functionally during postnatal development. For example, mutant mice exist in which SSCs support spermatogenesis in the first wave after birth but cease to do so thereafter, resulting in infertility in adults. Studies using a retroviral vector have shown that the vector transduces pup SSCs more efficiently than adult SSCs, which suggests that pup SSCs divide more frequently. Thus, it is hypothesized that the SSCs in pup and adult testes have different characteristics. As an approach to testing this hypothesis in the present study, we investigated the proliferation kinetics of pup SSCs (6–9 days old) and their self-renewal/differentiation patterns for the first 2 mo after transplantation, and compared them to those of adult SSCs. Using serial transplantation, we found that the number of pup SSCs declined over the first week after transplantation. Thereafter, it increased ~4-fold by 1 mo and ~9-fold by 2 mo after transplantation, which indicates that pup SSCs continuously proliferate from 1 wk to 2 mo after transplantation. Compared to the proliferation of SSCs derived from adult intact testes, that of pup SSCs was lower at 1 mo but similar at 2 mo, indicating the delayed proliferation of pup SSCs. However, the pup SSCs regenerated spermatogenic colonies at 1 mo that were similar in length to those of SSCs from adult intact testes. Therefore, these results suggest that some functional differences exist in SSCs during postnatal development, and that these differences may affect the abilities of SSCs to self-renew and differentiate.
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Vol. 76 • No. 5