Hormone Production by Human First-Trimester Gonads in a Functional In Vitro System

Halima Albalushi, Lena Sahlin, Elisabet Åkesson, Magdalena Kurek, Kristín Rós Kjartansdóttir, Rika Lindh, Olle Söder, Emilia Rotstein, Outi Hovatta, Jan-Bernd Stukenborg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In the past, explant tissue-culture methodologies have been used to grow gonads and study their development. Results from in vitro cultures of human gonads showed limited progress toward gonadal cell differentiation and were focused mainly on germ-cell differentiation. Thus, detailed studies focusing on human first-trimester gonadal tissue functionality in vitro are still missing. In this study we investigated the endocrine function of human first-trimester gonads in vitro. We included 27 female and 28 male gonadal samples, derived from a total of 55 cases, at postconceptional ages of 4.5 to 10.5 weeks. Tissues were cultured using an explant tissue-culture system for 14 days. Assays for testosterone (liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry), anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH; ELISA), and inhibin B (ELISA) were performed using media collected after 7 and 14 days of culture. We demonstrated sex- and age-dependent secretion profiles of testosterone, AMH, and inhibin B in the culture media, which resemble the pattern of hormone production in human gonads in vivo, from the few available studies at the same age range. Our study shows that explant tissue-culture conditions are robust for culture of human first-trimester gonadal somatic cells. Thus, it can be used to study human gonadal development and related diseases as well as the effect of potentially hormone-disturbing substances in human gonads during development. However, detailed molecular studies are needed for better understanding of the mechanistic control of the endocrine function of human first-trimester gonads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-142
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone/metabolism
  • Female
  • Gonads/growth & development
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Inhibins/metabolism
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First/metabolism
  • Testosterone/metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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