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Establishment of alternative culture method for spermatogonial stem cells using knockout serum replacement.

PloS one (2013-11-10)
Keisuke Aoshima, Ai Baba, Yoshinori Makino, Yuki Okada

Since spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are capable of both self-renewal and differentiation to daughter cells for subsequent spermatogenesis, the development of an efficient in vitro culture system is essential for studies related to spermatogenesis. Although the currently available system is serum-free and contains only chemically-defined components, it highly relies upon bovine serum albumin (BSA), a component with batch-to-batch quality variations similar to those of fetal bovine serum. Thus, we searched for an alternative BSA-free culture system that preserved the properties of SSCs. In this study, we utilized Knockout Serum Replacement (KSR) in the SSC culture medium, as a substitute for BSA. The results demonstrated that KSR supported the continuous growth of SSCs in vitro and the SSC activity in vivo without BSA, in a feeder-cell combination with mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The addition of BSA to KSR further facilitated cell cycle progression, whereas a transplantation assay revealed that the addition of BSA did not affect the number of SSCs in vivo. The combination of KSR with BSA also allowed the elimination of GFRA1 and FGF2, and the reduction of the GDNF concentration from 20 ng/ml to 5 ng/ml, while maintaining the growth rate and the expression of SSC markers. Furthermore, KSR was also useful with SSCs from non-DBA/2 strains, such as C57BL/6 and ICR. These results suggested that KSR is an effective substitute for BSA for long-term in vitro cultures of SSCs. Therefore, this method is practical for various studies related to SSCs, including spermatogenesis and germ stem cell biology.

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