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Cell Mol Immunol. 2014 Sep;11(5):428-37. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2014.38. Epub 2014 Jun 23.

Testicular defense systems: immune privilege and innate immunity.


The mammalian testis possesses a special immunological environment because of its properties of remarkable immune privilege and effective local innate immunity. Testicular immune privilege protects immunogenic germ cells from systemic immune attack, and local innate immunity is important in preventing testicular microbial infections. The breakdown of local testicular immune homeostasis may lead to orchitis, an etiological factor of male infertility. The mechanisms underlying testicular immune privilege have been investigated for a long time. Increasing evidence shows that both a local immunosuppressive milieu and systemic immune tolerance are involved in maintaining testicular immune privilege status. The mechanisms underlying testicular innate immunity are emerging based on the investigation of the pattern recognition receptor-mediated innate immune response in testicular cells. This review summarizes our current understanding of testicular defense mechanisms and identifies topics that merit further investigation.

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