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Endocrinology. 2001 May;142(5):1878-88.

Is cadmium chloride-induced inter-sertoli tight junction permeability barrier disruption a suitable in vitro model to study the events of junction disassembly during spermatogenesis in the rat testis?

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  • 1The Population Council, Center for Biomedical Research, New York, New York 10021, USA.


The events of germ cell movement during spermatogenesis are composed of intermittent phases of junction disassembly and reassembly. Although primary Sertoli cells cultured in vitro can be used to study junction reassembly, an in vitro model to study the events of junction disassembly is still lacking. We have assessed whether the CdCl(2)-induced inter-Sertoli tight junction (TJ) permeability barrier disruption in vitro can fill this gap. When Sertoli cells (1.2 x 10(6) cells/cm(2)) were cultured on Matrigel-coated bicameral units to allow the assembly of inter-Sertoli TJs, it was manifested by a steady rise in transepithelial electrical resistance across the Sertoli cell epithelia. Exposure of these cells on day 1 (i.e. 24 h after their isolation) to CdCl(2) at 5-10 microM for 8 h could perturb the inter-Sertoli TJ assembly dose dependently without any apparent cytotoxicity. Likewise, when cells were exposed to CdCl(2) (0.1-5 microM) on day 4 for 8 h after inter-Sertoli TJs were already assembled, CdCl(2) also perturbed the maintenance of inter-Sertoli TJ permeability barrier dose dependently without signs of cell cytotoxicity. Although the perturbed inter-Sertoli TJs were not capable of resealing even after the removal of CdCl(2), the presence of testosterone (T) at 1 x 10(-9) M allowed resealing of the inter-Sertoli TJ barrier after CdCl(2) was removed, whereas the presence of 2 x 10(-7) M testosterone even protected Sertoli cells from CdCl(2)-induced damage. More important, the reassembly of inter-Sertoli TJs after CdCl(2)-induced TJ disruption was accompanied by changes in cellular gene expression of occludin and urokinase plasminogen activator, which mimicked their patterns during inter- Sertoli TJ assembly in vitro without CdCl(2) treatment. Based on these results, it is apparent that CdCl(2)-induced inter-Sertoli TJ disassembly is a potential in vitro model to study the events of junction disassembly.

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