An oncological view on the blood-testis barrier

Lancet Oncol. 2002 Jun;3(6):357-63. doi: 10.1016/s1470-2045(02)00776-3.


The function of the blood-testis barrier is to protect germ cells from harmful influences; thus, it also impedes the delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs to the testis. The barrier has three components: first, a physicochemical barrier consisting of continuous capillaries, Sertoli cells in the tubular wall, connected together with narrow tight junctions, and a myoid-cell layer around the seminiferous tubule. Second, an efflux-pump barrier that contains P-glycoprotein in the luminal capillary endothelium and on the myoid-cell layer; and multidrug-resistance associated protein 1 located basolaterally on Sertoli cells. Third, an immunological barrier, consisting of Fas ligand on Sertoli cells. Inhibition of P-glycoprotein function offers the opportunity to increase the delivery of cytotoxic drugs to the testis. In the future, visualisation of function in the blood-testis barrier may also be helpful to identify groups of patients in whom testis conservation is safe or to select drugs that are less harmful to fertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / physiology*
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / immunology
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Testicular Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Testicular Neoplasms / pathology
  • Testis / anatomy & histology*


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1