A computer program has been developed that simulates the behavior of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) and their offspring inside and outside of the stem cell niche. Various parameters derived from previous morphological and cell kinetic studies have been used to set up an Excel-based computer program that simulates the proliferative activity of SSCs during the seminiferous epithelial cycle. SSCs and their offspring are depicted in a virtual piece of seminiferous tubule in which the daughter cells of self-renewing divisions of SSCs migrate away from each other, while after SSC differentiation a pair of cells is formed. Those SSC daughter cells that migrate out of the niche will very likely differentiate at their next division. Putting in physiologically acceptable parameters, the program renders numbers of spermatogonial cell types similar to those previously counted in whole mounts of seminiferous tubules. In this model, SSC numbers and numbers of differentiating cells remain constant for more than 50 virtual epithelial cycles, i.e., more than 1 yr of a mouse life and 2 yr of that of a Chinese hamster. The program can simulate various recent cell kinetic experiments and confirms, or offers alternative explanations for, the results obtained, showing its usefulness in spermatogenesis research.
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Vol. 88 • No. 5