The immune privilege of the testis

Monika Fijak, Sudhanshu Bhushan, Andreas Meinhardt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The onset of spermatogenesis at puberty represents unique challenges to the immune system as neoantigens of meiotic and haploid germ cells appear long after formation of systemic self-tolerance. The protection of germ cells from autoimmune attack, the “immune privilege” of the testis, was originally attributed both to the existence of the blood-testis barrier and to a failure of the testicular immune system to respond to antigens. Recent research has now shown that the testis is by no means ignorant, but can mount well-balanced immune deviant responses that can protect the gonad from damaging inflammatory responses to pathogens. Moreover, an excessive immune response can lead to inflammatorybased male factor infertility. The mechanisms controlling immune privilege seem to involve factors that also control spermatogenesis and steroidogenesis. They appear to include androgens, a delicate balance of immunomodulatory molecules such as cytokines and chemokines and a polarizing capacity of the testicular interstitial fluids towards a tolerogenic M2 phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImmune Infertility: Impact of Immune Reactions on Human Fertility, Second Edition
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9783319407883
ISBN (Print)9783319407869
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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