Results from the first autologous grafting of adult human testis tissue: a case report

Christian Fuglesang S Jensen*, Linn Salto Mamsen, Danyang Wang, Mikkel Fode, Aleksander Giwercman, Niels Jørgensen, Dana A Ohl, Jens Fedder, Eva R Hoffmann, Claus Yding Andersen, Jens Sønksen

*Corresponding author for this work


Fertility restoration using autologous testicular tissue transplantation is relevant for infertile men surviving from childhood cancer and, possibly, in men with absent or incomplete spermatogenesis resulting in the lack of spermatozoa in the ejaculate (non-obstructive azoospermia, NOA). Currently, testicular tissue from pre-pubertal boys extracted before treatment with gonadotoxic cancer therapy can be cryopreserved with good survival of spermatogonial stem cells. However, strategies for fertility restoration, after successful cancer treatment, are still experimental and no clinical methods have yet been developed. Similarly, no clinically available treatments can help men with NOA to become biological fathers after failed attempts of testicular surgical sperm retrieval. We present a case of a 31-year-old man with NOA who had three pieces of testis tissue (each ∼2 × 4 × 2 mm3) extracted and cryopreserved in relation to performing microdissection testicular sperm extraction (mTESE). Approximately 2 years after mTESE, the thawed tissue pieces were engrafted in surgically created pockets bilaterally under the scrotal skin. Follow-up was performed after 2, 4, and 6 months with assessment of reproductive hormones and ultrasound of the scrotum. After 6 months, all engrafted tissue was extracted and microscopically analyzed for the presence of spermatozoa. Furthermore, parts of the extracted tissue were analyzed histologically and by immunohistochemical analysis. Active blood flow in the engrafted tissue was demonstrated by doppler ultrasound after 6 months. No spermatozoa were found in the extracted tissue. Histological and immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated graft survival with intact clear tubules and normal cell organization. Sertoli cells and spermatocytes with normal morphology were located near the basement membrane. MAGE-A and VASA positive spermatogonia/spermatocytes were detected together with SOX9 positive Sertoli cells. Spermatocytes and/or Sertoli cells positive for γH2AX was also detected. In summary, following autologous grafting of frozen-thawed testis tissue under the scrotal skin in a man with NOA, we demonstrated graft survival after 6 months. No mature spermatozoa were detected; however, this is likely due to the pre-existing spermatogenic failure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)303-309
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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