Infertility due to low testosterone levels has increased in recent years. This has impacted the social well-being of the patients. This study was undertaken to investigate the potential of gonadotropins in facilitating differentiation of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) into Leydig cells in vitro. BMSCs were isolated, cultured, and their biological characteristics were observed. BMSCs were induced with gonadotropins in vitro and their ability to differentiate into Leydig cells was studied. The level of expression of 3-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) and secretion of testosterone were determined using flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively, and the results were compared between the experimental and control groups. The cultured BMSCs showed a typical morphology of the fibroblast-like colony. The growth curve of cells formed an S-shape. After inducing the cells for 8-13 days, the cells in the experimental group increased in size and showed typical characteristics of Leydig cells, and the growth occurred in spindle or stellate shapes. Cells from the experimental group highly expressed 3β-HSD, and there was a gradual increase in the number of Leydig cells. The control group did not express 3β-HSD. The level of testosterone in the experimental group was higher than the control group (p < 0.05). Additionally, the cells in the experimental group secreted higher levels of testosterone with increased culture time. The expression of Leydig cell-specific markers in the experimental group was significantly higher (p < 0.05). With these findings, BMSCs can be considered a new approach for the treatment of patients with low androgen levels.
Hou, L., Dong, Q., Wu, Y. J., Sun, Y. X., Guo, Y. Y., & Huo, Y. H. (2016). Gonadotropins facilitate potential differentiation of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells into Leydig cells in vitro. Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences, 32(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.kjms.2015.10.008