Peritubular macrophages are recruited to the testis of peripubertal rats after mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate exposure ans is associated with increases in the number spermatagonia.
May 19, 2021
Gillette R, Tiwary R, Voss JW, Hewage SH, Richburg JH
Peripubertal exposure of male rodents to the phthalate metabolite mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) causes testicular inflammation, spermatocyte apoptosis, and disruption of the blood-testis barrier. The MEHP-induced inflammatory response in the testis includes an infiltration of macrophages and neutrophils, although the cause and purpose of this response is unknown. Recently, a population of testicular macrophages known as peritubular macrophages that are phenotypically distinct from those resident in interstitium was described in mice. Peritubular macrophages aggregate near the spermatogonial stem cell niche and are believed to stimulate their differentiation. We hypothesized that if testicular peritubular macrophages do indeed stimulate spermatogonial differentiation, MEHP exposure would result in an increase of peritubular macrophages to stimulate the replacement of lost spermatocytes. Male rats were exposed to 700 mg/kg MEHP or corn oil (vehicle control) via oral gavage at postnatal day 28 and euthanized at 48 h, 1 or 2 weeks later. Seminiferous tubules were stained with immunofluorescent markers for macrophages (major histocompatibility complex class II [MHC-II+]) and undifferentiated spermatogonia (PLZF). Peritubular macrophages were observed in rat testis: MHC-II+ cells on the surface of seminiferous tubules with heterogeneous morphology. Quantification of MHC-II+ cells revealed that, unlike in the mouse, their numbers did not increase through puberty (2-week period). MEHP increased macrophage presence by 6-fold 48 h after exposure and remained elevated by 2-fold 2 weeks after exposure. An increase of differentiating spermatogonia occurred 2 weeks after MEHP exposure. Taken together, our results suggest that peritubular macrophages play a crucial role in the testis response to acute injury and the subsequent recovery of spermatogenesis.