An oncological view on the blood-testis barrier

Joost Bart, Harry J.M. Groen, Winette T.A. Van Der Graaf, Harry Hollema, N. Harry Hendrikse, Willem Vaalburg, Dirk T. Sleijfer, Elisabeth G.E. De Vries

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145 Citations (Scopus)


The function of the blood-testis barrier is to protect germ cells from harmful influences; thus, it also impedes the delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs to the testis. The barrier has three components: first, a physicochemical barrier consisting of continuous capillaries, Sertoli cells in the tubular wall, connected together with narrow tight junctions, and a myoid-cell layer around the seminiferous tubule. Second, an efflux-pump barrier that contains P-glycoprotein in the luminal capillary endothelium and on the myoid-cell layer; and multidrug-resistance associated protein 1 located basolaterally on Sertoli cells. Third, an immunological barrier, consisting of Fas ligand on Sertoli cells. Inhibition of P-glycoprotein function offers the opportunity to increase the delivery of cytotoxic drugs to the testis. In the future, visualisation of function in the blood-testis barrier may also be helpful to identify groups of patients in whom testis conservation is safe or to select drugs that are less harmful to fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-363
Number of pages7
Journallancet oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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