Human Pluripotent Stem Cells in Reproductive Science-a Comparison of Protocols Used to Generate and Define Male Germ Cells from Pluripotent Stem Cells

Magdalena Kurek, Halima Albalushi, Outi Hovatta, Jan-Bernd Stukenborg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Globally, fertility-related issues affect around 15% of couples. In 20%-30% of cases men are solely responsible, and they contribute in around 50% of all cases. Hence, understanding of in vivo germ-cell specification and exploring different angles of fertility preservation and infertility intervention are considered hot topics nowadays, with special focus on the use of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) as a source of in vitro germ-cell generation. However, the generation of male germ cells from hPSCs can currently be considered challenging, making a judgment on the real perspective of these innovative approaches difficult. Ever since the first spontaneous germ-cell differentiation studies, using human embryonic stem cells, various strategies, including specific co-cultures, gene over-expression, and addition of growth factors, have been applied for human germ-cell derivation. In line with the variety of differentiation methods, the outcomes have ranged from early and migratory primordial germ cells up to post-meiotic spermatids. This variety of culture approaches and cell lines makes comparisons between protocols difficult. Considering the diverse strategies and outcomes, we aim in this mini-review to summarize the literature regarding in vitro derivation of human male germ cells from hPSCs, while keeping a particular focus on the culture methods, growth factors, and cell lines used.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 4 2020


  • Cell Differentiation/physiology
  • Cytological Techniques/methods
  • Embryonic Stem Cells/cytology
  • Germ Cells/cytology
  • Humans
  • Infertility/physiopathology
  • Male
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells/cytology
  • Reproduction/physiology

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