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The immunobiology of the mammalian epididymis: the black box is now open!

Abstract : Spermatozoa represent an immunologic challenge for the mammalian males. They are produced long after the establishment of the immune library of the individual and harbor specific spermatic antigens that are found nowhere else in other organs, tissues and cells. Consequently, spermatozoa are somehow "foreign" to the male adaptive immune system. In order not to elicit autoimmune responses that would be detrimental for male fertility, spermatozoa should be either physically separated from the adaptive immune response and/or, the immune system challenged by spermatic antigens must be efficiently silenced. Within the mammalian male genital tract it becomes more and more obvious that a range of strategies are at stake to ensure that the immune-stranger spermatozoa do not constitute an immunological issue. In this review the focus will be on the immune status of the epididymis tubule, in which spermatozoa that have left the testes will mature for approximately 2 weeks and may be stored for prolonged period of time. How the epididymal immune environment compares to that of the testis and what are the immune regulatory processes at work in the epididymal compartment will only be briefly described. Instead, this review will focus on recent data that highlight epididymal immune regulatory actors that partly explain/illustrate the rather complicated, fragile but nevertheless robust immune environment of the epididymis.
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 5:09:15 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - 11:22:02 AM


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  • HAL Id : inserm-00879088, version 1



Rachel Guiton, Joelle Henry-Berger, Joël Drevet. The immunobiology of the mammalian epididymis: the black box is now open!. Basic and Clinical Andrology, 2013, 23 (1), pp.8. ⟨inserm-00879088⟩



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