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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;763:237-59.

Blood-tissue barriers: morphofunctional and immunological aspects of the blood-testis and blood-epididymal barriers.

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  • 1Department of Morphology, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.


The blood-testis barrier (BTB) is known for its ability to create an immune privilege site in the seminiferous epithelium, but less is known of the blood-epididymal barrier (BEB). It is already established that the fully functional BTB and BEB are much more complex and consist of anatomical/physical (tight junctions, basolateral and apical membranes), physiological and immunological components, which are all necessary to make a functioning barrier in the testis and epididymis. However, comparative data for metazoans suggest that an effective Sertoli cell barrier is not entirely necessary for the development of germ cells during spermatogenesis or that our knowledge about the barrier structure/function in metazoans is still immature. This chapter compares the unique barrier formed by the Sertoli cells of the testis to that formed by the apical junctional complexes of the epididymal epithelium.

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