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Lancet Oncol. 2002 Jun;3(6):357-63.

An oncological view on the blood-testis barrier.

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Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine and PET Center, University Hospital Groningen, Netherlands


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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