Garlic (Allium sativum) feeding impairs Sertoli cell junctional proteins in male Wistar rat testis: microscopy study

Andrologia. 2016 Dec;48(10):1281-1288. doi: 10.1111/and.12574. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


Sertoli cell junctions, such as adhesion junction (AJ), gap junction (GJ) and tight junction (TJ), are important for maintaining spermatogenesis. In previous studies, we showed the inhibitory effect of crude garlic (Allium sativum, As) on spermatogenesis and steroidogenesis. The aim of this work was to complete our investigation on the impact of this plant, especially on Sertoli cell junctional proteins (SCJPs). During 1 month, 24 male rats were divided into groups: group control (0% of As) and treated groups fed 5%, 10% and 15% of As. Light and electron microscopy observations were performed to localise junctional proteins: connexin-43, Zona Occluding-1 and N-cadherin (immunohistochemistry) and to describe junctions. We showed that the specific cells involved in the localisation of the SCJP were similar in both control and treated groups, but with different immunoreactivity intensity between them. The electron microscopy observation focused on TJs between Sertoli cells, constituting the blood-testis barrier, showed ultrastructural changes such as fragmentation of TJs between adjacent Sertoli cell membranes and dilatation of rough endoplasmic reticulum saccules giving an aspect of scale to these junctions. We concluded that crude garlic consumption during 1 month induces perturbations on Sertoli cell junctions. These alterations can explain apoptosis in testicular germ cells previously showed.

Keywords: Allium sativum; Sertoli cells; testis; tight junction.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / drug effects*
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / metabolism
  • Connexin 43 / metabolism
  • Garlic*
  • Male
  • Microscopy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sertoli Cells / drug effects*
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects*
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein / metabolism


  • Connexin 43
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tjp1 protein, rat
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein