Effects of spermatogenic cycle on Stem Leydig cell proliferation and differentiation

Xiaoju Guan, Fenfen Chen, Panpan Chen, Xingxing Zhao, Hongxia Mei, June Liu, Qingquan Lian, Barry R. Zirkin, Haolin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We reported previously that stem Leydig cells (SLC) on the surfaces of rat testicular seminiferous tubules are able to differentiate into Leydig cells. The proliferation and differentiation of SLCs seem likely to be regulated by niche cells, including nearby germ and Sertoli cells. Due to the cyclical nature of spermatogenesis, we hypothesized that the changes in the germ cell composition of the seminiferous tubules as spermatogenesis proceeds may affect tubule-associated SLC functions. To test this hypothesis, we compared the ability of SLCs associated with tubules at different stages of the cycle to differentiate into Leydig cells in vitro. SLCs associated with stages IX-XI were more active in proliferation and differentiation than SLCs associated with stages VII-VIII. However, when the SLCs were isolated from each of the two groups of tubules and cultured in vitro, no differences were seen in their ability to proliferate or differentiate. These results suggested that the stage-dependent local factors, not the SLCs themselves, explain the stage-dependent differences in SLC function. TGFB, produced in stage-specific fashion by Sertoli cells, is among the factors shown in previous studies to affect SLC function in vitro. When TGFB inhibitors were included in the cultures of stages IX-XI and VII-VIII tubules, stage-dependent differences in SLC development were reduced, suggesting that TGFB may be among the paracrine factors involved in the stage-dependent differences in SLC function. Taken together, the findings suggest that there is dynamic interaction between SLCs and germ/Sertoli cells within the seminiferous tubules that may affect SLC proliferation and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
StatePublished - Feb 5 2019


  • Spermatogenic cycles
  • Stem leydig cells
  • TGFB
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of spermatogenic cycle on Stem Leydig cell proliferation and differentiation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this