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Department of Animal Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agricultural, Food & Environment

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Anex vivoApproach to Study Hormonal Control of Spermatogenesis in the TeleostOreochromis niloticus


Thoennes, M. ; Vogt, M. ; Steinborn, K. ; Hausken, K. N. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Froschauer, A. ; Pfennig, F. Anex vivoApproach to Study Hormonal Control of Spermatogenesis in the TeleostOreochromis niloticus. FRONTIERS IN ENDOCRINOLOGY 2020, 11.

Date Published:

JUL 10


As the male reproductive organ, the main task of the testis is the production of fertile, haploid spermatozoa. This process, named spermatogenesis, starts with spermatogonial stem cells, which undergo a species-specific number of mitotic divisions until starting meiosis and further morphological maturation. The pituitary gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone, and follicle stimulating hormone, are indispensable for vertebrate spermatogenesis, but we are still far from fully understanding the complex regulatory networks involved in this process. Therefore, we developed anex vivotestis cultivation system which allows evaluating the occurring changes in histology and gene expression. The experimental circulatory flow-through setup described in this work provides the possibility to study the function of the male tilapia gonads on a cellular and transcriptional level for at least 7 days. After 1 week of culture, tilapia testis slices kept their structure and all stages of spermatogenesis could be detected histologically. Without pituitary extract (tilPE) however, fibrotic structures appeared, whereas addition of tilPE preserved spermatogenic cysts and somatic interstitium completely. We could show that tilPE has a stimulatory effect on spermatogonia proliferation in our culture system. In the presence of tilPE or hCG, the gene expression of steroidogenesis related genes (cyp11b2andstAR2) were notably increased. Other testicular genes likepiwil1, amh, ordmrt1were not expressed differentially in the presence or absence of gonadotropins or gonadotropin containing tilPE. We established a suitable system for studying tilapia spermatogenesisex vivowith promise for future applications.