Perfusion in Organ-on-Chip Models and Its Applicability to the Replication of Spermatogenesis In Vitro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Organ/organoid-on-a-chip (OoC) technologies aim to replicate aspects of the in vivo environment in vitro, at the scale of microns. Mimicking the spatial in vivo structure is important and can provide a deeper understanding of the cell–cell interactions and the mechanisms that lead to normal/abnormal function of a given organ. It is also important for disease models and drug/toxin testing. Incorporating active fluid flow in chip models enables many more possibilities. Active flow can provide physical cues, improve intercellular communication, and allow for the dynamic control of the environment, by enabling the efficient introduction of biological factors, drugs, or toxins. All of this is in addition to the fundamental role of flow in supplying nutrition and removing waste metabolites. This review presents an overview of the different types of fluid flow and how they are incorporated in various OoC models. The review then describes various methods and techniques of incorporating perfusion networks into OoC models, including self-assembly, bioprinting techniques, and utilizing sacrificial gels. The second part of the review focuses on the replication of spermatogenesis in vitro; the complex process whereby spermatogonial stem cells differentiate into mature sperm. A general overview is given of the various approaches that have been used. The few studies that incorporated microfluidics or vasculature are also described. Finally, a future perspective is given on elements from perfusion-based models that are currently used in models of other organs and can be applied to the field of in vitro spermatogenesis. For example, adopting tubular blood vessel models to mimic the morphology of the seminiferous tubules and incorporating vasculature in testis-on-a-chip models. Improving these models would improve our understanding of the process of spermatogenesis. It may also potentially provide novel therapeutic strategies for pre-pubertal cancer patients who need aggressive chemotherapy that can render them sterile as well asfor a subset of non-obstructive azoospermic patients with maturation arrest, whose testes do not produce sperm but still contain some of the progenitor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5402
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • male-fertility
  • microfluidics
  • organ/organoid-on-a-chip
  • perfusion
  • post-cancer fertility
  • sperm
  • spermatogenesis

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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