Blood-testis barrier and spermatogenesis: lessons from genetically-modified mice

Asian J Androl. Jul-Aug 2014;16(4):572-80. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.125401.


The blood-testis barrier (BTB) is found between adjacent Sertoli cells in the testis where it creates a unique microenvironment for the development and maturation of meiotic and postmeiotic germ cells in seminiferous tubes. It is a compound proteinous structure, composed of several types of cell junctions including tight junctions (TJs), adhesion junctions and gap junctions (GJs). Some of the junctional proteins function as structural proteins of BTB and some have regulatory roles. The deletion or functional silencing of genes encoding these proteins may disrupt the BTB, which may cause immunological or other damages to meiotic and postmeiotic cells and ultimately lead to spermatogenic arrest and infertility. In this review, we will summarize the findings on the BTB structure and function from genetically-modified mouse models and discuss the future perspectives.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Azoospermia / congenital
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Infertility / genetics
  • Infertility / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Oligospermia / genetics
  • Oligospermia / physiopathology*
  • Sertoli Cells / physiology*
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics*

Supplementary concepts

  • Arrest of spermatogenesis