Generation of a htert-immortalized human sertoli cell model to study transporter dynamics at the blood-testis barrier

Raymond K. Hau, Siennah R. Miller, Stephen H. Wright, Nathan J. Cherrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The blood-testis barrier (BTB) formed by adjacent Sertoli cells (SCs) limits the entry of many chemicals into seminiferous tubules. Differences in rodent and human substrate-transporter selectivity or kinetics can misrepresent conclusions drawn using rodent in vitro models. Therefore, human in vitro models are preferable when studying transporter dynamics at the BTB. This study describes a hTERT-immortalized human SC line (hT-SerC) with significantly increased replication capacity and minor phenotypic alterations compared to primary human SCs. Notably, hT-SerCs retained similar morphology and minimal changes to mRNA expression of several common SC genes, including AR and FSHR. The mRNA expression of most xenobiotic transporters was within the 2-fold difference threshold in RT-qPCR analysis with some exceptions (OAT3, OCT3, OCTN1, OATP3A1, OATP4A1, ENT1, and ENT2). Functional analysis of the equilibrative nucleoside transporters (ENTs) revealed that primary human SCs and hT-SerCs predominantly express ENT1 with minimal ENT2 expression at the plasma membrane. ENT1-mediated uptake of [3 H] uridine was linear over 10 min and inhibited by NBMPR with an IC50 value of 1.35 ± 0.37 nM. These results demonstrate that hT-SerCs can functionally model elements of transport across the human BTB, potentially leading to identification of other transport pathways for xenobiotics, and will guide drug discovery efforts in developing effective BTB-permeable compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1005
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Antiviral
  • Blood–testis barrier
  • Cell immortalization
  • Drug disposition
  • Male contraceptive
  • Nucleoside transport
  • Sertoli cell
  • Testes
  • Uridine
  • Xenobiotic transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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