, Volume 324, Issue 2, pp 311-318
Date: 24 Jan 2006

Identification of a dendritic cell population in normal testis and in chronically inflamed testis of rats with autoimmune orchitis

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Experimental autoimmune orchitis (EAO) in the rat is the primary chronic animal model for the investigation of one of the main causes of male infertility, viz., testicular inflammation. Dendritic cells (DC) are potent antigen-presenting cells that play a fundamental role in autoimmune disease. We investigated the number of DC in normal testis and examined whether DC infiltrated the testis during the development of EAO. EAO was induced by active immunization with testis homogenate and adjuvants in two strains of rat (Wistar and Sprague Dawley). The presence of DC in testis was determined, 50 and 80 days after the first immunization, by immunohistochemical staining with specific antibodies (OX-62 and CD11c), and then the total number of DC was measured by stereological analysis. Labeled cells were found only in the interstitial compartment and within granulomas of EAO animals. The number of DC in EAO testes increased compared with control rats in both strains, whereas the number of OX-62+ and CD11c+ cells in adjuvant controls remained unchanged compared with untreated rats. Interspecies variations in the quantity of DC were found, with the total number of DC per testis in untreated and adjuvant control Sprague-Dawley rats being about three times higher than that seen in Wistar rats. Moreover, the increase in DC numbers at 80 days was less prominent in EAO testes of Sprague-Dawley rats than in the Wistar strain in which EAO was more severe and showed a higher number of granulomae. Thus, we have identified the DC population in normal and chronically inflamed testis. The increase in DC observed in EAO suggests that, under inflammatory conditions, the modified action(s) of these cells is a factor in the induction of the autoimmune response in testis.

This work was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany (Me 1323/4–1 &4–2) and grants from Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científícas y Técnicas (CONICET, Argentina). The authors are Research Members (L.L.) or Fellows (C.R.) of CONICET and the UBA (V.A.G.).