A Review of New Technologies that may Become Useful forin vitroProduction of Boar Sperm

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ContentsMaking sperm cells outside the original testicular environment in a culture dish has been considered for a long time as impossible due to the very complicated process of spermatogenesis and sperm maturation, which altogether, encompasses a 2-month period. However, new approaches in complex three-dimensional co-cell cultures, micro-perfusion and micro-fluidics technologies, new knowledge in the functioning, culturing and differentiation of spermatogonial stem cells (SSC) and their precursor cells have revolutionized this field. Furthermore, the use of better molecular markers as well as stimulatory factors has led to successful in vitro culture of stem cells either derived from germ line stem cells, from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) or from embryonic stem cells (ESC). These stem cells when placed into small seminiferous tubule fragments are able to become SSC. The SSC beyond self-renewal can also be induced into haploid sperm-like cells under in vitro conditions. In mouse, this in vitro produced sperm can be injected into a mature oocyte and allow post-fertilization development into an early embryo in vitro. After transferring such obtained embryos into the uterus of a recipient mouse, they can further develop into healthy offspring. Recently, a similar approach has been performed with combining selected cells from testicular cell suspensions followed by a complete in vitro culture of seminiferous cords producing sperm-like cells. However, most of the techniques developed are laborious, time-consuming and have low efficiency, placing questionable that it will become useful used for setting up an efficient in vitro sperm production system for the boar. The benefits and drawbacks as well as the likeliness of in vitro pig sperm production to become applied in assisted technologies for swine reproduction are critically discussed. In this contribution, also the process of sperm production in the testis and sperm maturation is reviewed.

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