Testosterone is not only a key sexual hormone but also important in cognitive and bodily growth of males especially during puberty. However, a third of elderly males suffer from hypogonadism, a condition in which the body produces abnormally low levels of testosterone. A recent study reveals hypogonadism can now be treated through stem cell.
Levels of testosterone in males naturally decline with age but extreme low levels lead to frequent mood swings, decreases in bone and muscle strength and decrease in sex drive. Male hypogonadism is commonly treated through testosterone replacement therapy but this procedure has a number of side effects -- including prostate and cardiovascular complications such as blood clot formations.
A new development stem cell suggests an alternative method of treatment, which involves transforming adult skin cells into Leydig cells, which are responsible for producing testosterone. In a study published in Stem Cell Reports on Thursday, Dec. 22, researchers from Jinan University in China tested the possibility of using direct cell programming in rodents to create Ledyig cells.
The researchers successfully reprogrammed the mouse skin cells of testosterone-deficient rats by transplanting Ledyig cells into the testes. The cells survived and the testosterone level of the rats also returned to normal.
"Our study is the first to report a method for generating Leydig cells by means of direct cell reprogramming. This alternative source of Leydig cells will be of great significance for basic research and provides the attractive prospect of clinical application in the field of regenerative medicine," one of the researchers, Yadong Huang said, according to Medical News Today.
The researchers are now closely studying the detailed mechanisms of the reprogramming of the skin cells to Leydig cells. They added that they hope the research findings can make way for more developments of the regenerative approach of using stem cell to treat testosterone deficiency in men.