Characterization of stem cells associated with seminiferous tubule of adult rat testis for their potential to form Leydig cells

Xiaoju Guan, Panpan Chen, Xingxing Zhao, Xinrui Hao, Fenfen Chen, Minpeng Ji, Xin Wen, Han Lin, Leping Ye, Haolin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Adult testicular Leydig cells arise from stem cells in the neonatal and adult testis. The nature of these stem Leydig cells (SLCs) have not been well characterized. We have found previously that a group cells expressing CD90, a cell surface glycoprotein that may play roles in cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and associated with the seminiferous tubule surface, have the ability to form Leydig cells. As yet, the relationship between this CD90+ cell population and SLCs reported previously by other groups is still unknown. In the present study, we systematically characterized these CD90+ cells by their ability to express multiple potential SLC markers and to proliferate and differentiate into Leydig cells in vitro. First, we have found by qPCR and immunohistochemical staining that the CD90+ cells do not express any of the markers of the common seminiferous tubular cells, including myoid, Sertoli, germ and Leydig cells, as well as macrophages. Moreover, when the CD90+ cells were isolated by fluorescent-sorting, the cells expressed high levels of all the potential SLC marker genes, including Nestin, Cd51, Coup-tf2, Arx, Pdgfra and Tcf21. Also, CD90-positive, but not -negative, cells were able to form Leydig cells in vitro with the proper inducing medium. Overall, the results indicated that the tubule-associated CD90+ cells represent a population of SLC in adult testis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101593
JournalStem Cell Research
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • CD90
  • Seminiferous tubules
  • Stem Leydig cells
  • Testis
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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