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*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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
Article number1028
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Differentiation
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Infertility
  • Male germ cells
  • Pluripotent stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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