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Cell Tissue Res. 2002 May;308(2):277-85. Epub 2002 Apr 13.

The response of testicular leukocytes to lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation: further evidence for heterogeneity of the testicular macrophage population.

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Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


The majority of macrophages in the rat testis can be identified by the tissue-resident macrophage marker ED2. A smaller population of intratesticular macrophages do not express the ED2 antigen but are positive for the monocyte/macrophage marker ED1. Treatment of adult rats with the inflammatory stimulus lipopolysaccharide (LPS) had no effect on the number of testicular resident (ED2(+)) macrophages but caused a transient increase in ED1(+)ED2(-) monocyte-like macrophages (an average three-fold increase 12 h later). In both control and LPS-treated rat testes, a majority of macrophages that expressed ED1 and all Leydig cells were immuno-positive for the inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). However, less than 6% of ED2(+) macrophages showed any iNOS expression, even after LPS treatment. This deficiency was confirmed by the finding that isolated ED2(+) testicular macrophages (>98% pure) stimulated with LPS did not produce NO in vitro. In contrast, resident macrophages from the peritoneum showed the expected NO response, and purified Leydig cells produced significant NO regardless of the presence or absence of LPS. Collectively, these data indicate the presence of at least two macrophage subsets in the adult rat testis: (1) the ED2(+) resident macrophages, which do not alter following LPS-treatment and mostly do not express iNOS or produce NO in response to an inflammatory stimulus, and (2) the ED1(+)ED2(-) monocyte-like macrophages, which increase in number after LPS-treatment and express iNOS even in the absence of exogenous inflammatory stimulation. It is highly probable that these different subsets have different functional roles within the testis.

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