Differential permeability of the blood-testis barrier during reinitiation of spermatogenesis in adult male rats

Jenna Haverfield, Sarah J Meachem, Peter Nicholls, Katarzyna Eliza (Kate) Rainczuk, Evan Rutherford Simpson, Peter G Stanton

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The blood-testis barrier (BTB) sequesters meiotic spermatocytes and differentiating spermatids away from the vascular environment. We aimed to assess whether meiosis and postmeiotic differentiation could occur when the BTB is permeable. Using a model of meiotic suppression and reinitiation, BTB function was assessed using permeability tracers of small, medium, and large (0.6-, 70-, and 150-kDa) sizes to emulate blood- and lymphatic-borne factors that could cross the BTB. Adult rats (n = 9/group) received the GnRH antagonist acyline (10 wk) to suppress gonadotropins, followed by testosterone (24cm Silastic implant), for 2, 4, 7, 10, 15, and 35 days. In acyline-suppressed testes, all tracers permeated the seminiferous epithelium. As spermatocytes up to diplotene stage XIII reappeared, both the 0.6- and 70-kDa tracers, but not 150 kDa, permeated around these cells. Intriguingly, the 0.6- and 70-kDa tracers were excluded from pachytene spermatocytes at stages VII and VIII but not in subsequent stages. The BTB became progressively impermeable to the 0.6- and 70-kDa tracers as stages IV-VII round spermatids reappeared in the epithelium. This coincided with the appearance of the tight junction protein, claudin-12, in Sertoli cells and at the BTB. We conclude that meiosis can occur when the BTB is permeable to factors up to 70 kDa during the reinitiation of spermatogenesis. Moreover, BTB closure corresponds with the presence of particular pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids. This research has implications for understanding the effects of BTB dynamics in normal spermatogenesis and also potentially in states where spermatogenesis is suppressed, such as male hormonal contraception or infertility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131 - 1144
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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