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Penn vet researchers identify a critical growth factor that stimulates sperm stem cells to thrive
Date:3/6/2009

PHILADELPHIA - Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and Pennsylvania State University have identified for the first time a specific "niche factor" in the mouse testes called colony stimulating factor 1, Csf1, that has a direct effect on sperm stem cell self-renewal. Moreover, the study shows that the origin of this growth factor is the Leydig cell located in the testes and stimulated by the pituitary gland to supply testosterone that secretes Csf1 and enhances self-renewal of the stem cells.

The finding, based upon a decade of related research, shows that stem cells are influenced to increase divisions by this growth factor, which provides a powerful new model in the study of stem cells and shows they interact with their microenvironment called the "niche." Future studies can now be performed in a stem cell-niche system that provides a quantitative functional end point for assessment.

"This appears to be the first identified factor in a stem cell niche with a specific effect on self-renewal of stem cells, as well as the first cell found to be the origin of such a niche factor in any mammalian adult stem cell system," Ralph Brinster, professor of physiology at Penn Vet, said. "The growing recognition of the profound control the niche has on stem cell function, including aging, makes our result of interest to scientists not only in reproduction but in all adult stem cell systems."

All stem cells reside in a microenvironment generated by the cells that surround them, known as the stem cell "niche." The stem cell and niche interact and influence each other, forming an interdependent, functional unit that results in stem cell self-renewal, differentiation, aging and other stem cell functions, including stem cell death. Brinster and his research team have for decades focused on spermatogonial stem cells, SSCs, that are the foundation of spermatogenesis and production of spermatozoa in the testes of a
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Contact: Jordan Reese
jreese@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

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