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Fertility and Germline Stem Cell Transplants in Mice

lab mouseFor many couples, conceiving a child can be a long and difficult process. The CDC estimates that 6.7% of married women aged 15-44 are infertile, meaning that they have not been able to get pregnant in over 12 months of attempting.  Further, 12.1% of women aged 15-44 have impaired fecundity, meaning that they have physical difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to live birth.

Causes of these fertility issues can include serious medical issues such as early menopause or chemo-induced infertility. One of the dream treatments for these conditions involves using germline stem cells. Germline stem cells are the precursors to both eggs and sperm. Until recently, the conventional wisdom was that women are born with a certain number of germline stem cells that all convert into eggs before she is born. However, there is now some evidence that germline stem cells may be able to be introduced to the body and be coaxed into developing into eggs.

Scientists have known for a while that germline stem cells could be turned into eggs in a petri dish, but they had no support for the idea that it could be done in the body. Recent research from China has taken the first steps to show that this may be a feasible approach to restoring fertility. The researchers took germline stem cells from very young mice (6 days old), and transplanted them into the ovaries of sterilized adult female mice. After a few days, the cells moved to the edge of the ovary and started turning into egg cells.

After waiting five to eight weeks, the researchers had the mice that received the transplant mate with male mice. The females successfully became pregnant and gave birth to healthy pups. While this is a very impressive result, there are some issues with the process. Mainly, that the transplant came from very young mice. Other scientists have pointed out that the results would be more impressive if the transplanted stem cells had come from an adult mouse. However, this could still be an important step towards giving infertile women an option to become pregnant, albeit in the distant future.

For similar experiments involving mice or other rodents, Powers Scientific offers rodent chambers that are adaptable to a variety of environments. Our chambers offer a temperature and lighting controlled environment with a temperature range of 6.5-50°C, and 0-15 fresh air exchanges per hour. Each chamber comes equipped with features such as clock-controlled lighting, solid doors, an interior outlet and access port, doors locks, an audible/visual alarm with relay, stainless steel construction, and casters. Many other options are available, including additional lighting or LED lighting, dual or multi-point temperature control for temperature stressing, top-mounted or remote compressors, extra-deep sizes, or RS-232 or data retransmit outputs. Our chambers are all built to order, allowing the individual researcher to tailor the incubator to fit the required parameters of the experiment without paying for features that aren’t needed.

For more information on our rodent incubators, see our product page or contact us to request a catalog or quote.