Modeling Human Gonad Development in Organoids

Marina V. Pryzhkova, Romina Boers, Philip W. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND:: Our learning about human reproductive development is greatly hampered due to the absence of an adequate model. Animal studies cannot truthfully recapitulate human developmental processes, and studies of human fetal tissues are limited by their availability and ethical restrictions. Innovative three-dimensional (3D) organoid technology utilizing human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offered a new approach to study tissue and organ development in vitro. However, a system for modeling human gonad development has not been established, thus, limiting our ability to study causes of infertility. METHODS:: In our study we utilized the 3D hPSC organoid culture in mini-spin bioreactors. Relying on intrinsic self-organizing and differentiation capabilities of stem cells, we explored whether organoids could mimic the development of human embryonic and fetal gonad. RESULTS:: We have developed a simple, bioreactor-based organoid system for modeling early human gonad development. Male hPSC-derived organoids follow the embryonic gonad developmental trajectory and differentiate into multipotent progenitors, which further specialize into testicular supporting and interstitial cells. We demonstrated functional activity of the generated cell types by analyzing the expression of cell type-specific markers. Furthermore, the specification of gonadal progenitors in organoid culture was accompanied by the characteristic architectural tissue organization. CONCLUSION:: This organoid system opens the opportunity for detailed studies of human gonad and germ cell development that can advance our understanding of sex development disorders. Implementation of human gonad organoid technology could be extended to modeling causes of infertility and regenerative medicine applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1206
Number of pages22
JournalTissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Gonad development
  • Human pluripotent stem cells
  • Mesonephros
  • Mini-spin bioreactor
  • Testis organoid model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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