18 January 2018
Despite their important contribution to the cure of both oncological and benign diseases, gonadotoxic therapies present the risk of a severe impairment of fertility. Sperm cryopreservation is not an option to preserve prepubertal boys’ reproductive potential, as their seminiferous tubules only contain spermatogonial stem cells (as diploid precursors of spermatozoa). Cryobanking of human immature testicular tissue (ITT) prior to gonadotoxic therapies is an accepted practice. Evaluation of cryopreserved ITT using xenotransplantation in nude mice showed the survival of a limited proportion of spermatogonia and their ability to proliferate and initiate differentiation. However, complete spermatogenesis could not be achieved in the mouse model. Loss of germ cells after ITT grafting points to the need to optimize the transplantation technique. Tissue engineering, a new branch of science that aims at improving cellular environment using scaffolds and molecules administration, might be an approach for further progress. In this review, after summarizing the lessons learned from human prepubertal testicular germ cells or tissue xenotransplantation experiments, we will focus on the benefits that might be gathered using bioengineering techniques to enhance transplantation outcomes by optimizing early tissue graft revascularization, protecting cells from toxic insults linked to ischemic injury and exploring strategies to promote cellular differentiation.