Localization of Xenobiotic Transporters Expressed at the Human Blood-Testis Barrier

Raymond K. Hau, Robert R. Klein, Stephen H. Wright, Nathan J. Cherrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The blood-testis barrier (BTB) is formed by basal tight junctions between adjacent Sertoli cells (SCs) of the seminiferous tubules and acts as a physical barrier to protect developing germ cells in the adluminal compartment from reproductive toxicants. Xenobiotics, including antivirals, male contraceptives, and cancer chemotherapeutics, are known to cross the BTB, although the mechanisms that permit barrier circumvention are generally unknown. This study used immunohistological staining of human testicular tissue to determine the site of expression for xenobiotic transporters that facilitate transport across the BTB. Organic anion transporter (OAT) 1, OAT2, and organic cation transporter, novel (OCTN) 1 primarily localized to the basal membrane of SCs, whereas OCTN2, multidrug resistance protein (MRP) 3, MRP6, and MRP7 localized to SC basal membranes and peritubular myoid cells (PMCs) surrounding the seminiferous tubules. Concentrative nucleoside transporter (CNT) 2 localized to Leydig cells (LCs), PMCs, and SC apicolateral membranes. Organic cation transporter (OCT) 1, OCT2, and OCT3 mostly localized to PMCs and LCs, although there was minor staining in developing germ cells for OCT3. Organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP) 1A2, OATP1B1, OATP1B3, OATP2A1, OATP2B1, and OATP3A1-v2 localized to SC basal membranes with diffuse staining for some transporters. Notably, OATP1C1 and OATP4A1 primarily localized to LCs. Positive staining for multidrug and toxin extrusion protein (MATE) 1 was only observed throughout the adluminal compartment. Definitive staining for CNT1, OAT3, MATE2, and OATP6A1 was not observed. The location of these transporters is consistent with their involvement in the movement of xenobiotics across the BTB. Altogether, the localization of these transporters provides insight into the mechanisms of drug disposition across the BTB and will be useful in developing tools to overcome the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic difficulties presented by the BTB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-780
Number of pages11
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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