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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Renal Subcapsular xenografing of human fetal external genital tissue - A new model for investigating urethral development.

  • Author(s): Isaacson, Dylan
  • Shen, Joel
  • Cao, Mei
  • Sinclair, Adriane
  • Yue, Xuan
  • Cunha, Gerald
  • Baskin, Laurence
  • et al.

In this paper, we introduce our novel renal subcapsular xenograft model for the study of human penile urethral and clitoral development. We grafted fifteen intact fetal penes and clitorides 8-11 weeks fetal age under the renal capsules of gonadectomized athymic mice. The mice were treated with a subcutaneous pellet of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), diethylstilbestrol (DES) or untreated with hormones. Xenografts were harvested after fourteen days of growth and analyzed via serial histologic sectioning and immunostaining for Ki-67, cytokeratins 6, 7 and 10, uroplakin and the androgen receptor. Non-grafted specimens of similar fetal age were sectioned and immunostained for the same antigenic markers. 14/15 (93.3%) grafts were successfully propagated and harvested. The developing urethral plate, urethral groove, tubular urethra, corporal bodies and preputial lamina were easily identifiable. These structures demonstrated robust cellularity, appropriate architecture and abundant Ki-67 expression. Expression patterns of cytokeratins 6, 7 and 10, uroplakin and the androgen receptor in xenografted specimens demonstrated characteristic male/female differences analogous to non-grafted specimens. DHT treatment reliably produced tubularization of nascent urethral and vestibular structures and male patterns of androgen receptor expression in grafts of both genetic sexes while estrogenic or hormonally absent conditions reliably resulted in a persistent open urethral/vestibular groove and female patterns of androgen receptor expression. This model's success enables further study into causal pathways by which endocrine-disrupting and endocrine-mimicking substances may directly cause disruption of normal human urethral development or hypospadias.

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