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Endocrinology. 2003 Apr;144(4):1139-42.

TGF-beta3 regulates the blood-testis barrier dynamics via the p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway: an in vivo study.

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Population Council, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Recent studies using Sertoli cells cultured in vitro to permit tight junction (TJ) assembly have shown that TJ dynamics are regulated, at least in part, by TGF-beta3 via the p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway. This in turn regulates the production of occludin, a TJ-integral membrane protein, by Sertoli cells. Yet it is not known if this pathways is used by Sertoli cells to regulate the blood-testis barrier (BTB) function in vivo. Using an in vivo model for studying BTB dynamics, we report herein the CdCl(2)-induced BTB damage in rats was associated with a significant reduction in testicular occludin along with a loss of immunoreactive occludin in the seminiferous epithelium at the site of the BTB. Also, this CdCl(2)-induced occludin loss from the BTB coincided with a surge in testicular TGF-beta3, as well as p-p38 MAP kinase (the phosphorylated/activated form of p38), but not p38 MAP kinase and neither extracellular signal-regulated kinase nor its phosphorylated form (ERK/p-ERK), consistent with results of in vitro studies. More important, intratesticular administration of SB202190, a specific p38 MAP kinase inhibitor, could block the CdCl(2)-induced occludin loss from the BTB. These results illustrate that BTB dynamics in vivo are regulated by the TGF-beta3/p38 MAP kinase pathway, which in turn determines the level of occludin at the site of Sertoli cells TJs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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