TGF-βs: their role in testicular function and Sertoli cell tight junction dynamics


C. Yan Cheng, Population Council, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA. E-mail:


Transforming growth factor-βs (TGF-βs) are known to regulate multiple physiological functions in the testis, which include spermatogenesis, Leydig cell steroidogenesis, extracellular matrix synthesis and testis development. More recent studies have shown that TGF-β3 also regulates Sertoli cell tight junction (TJ) dynamics in vitro via the p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway, suggesting that this cytokine plays a crucial role in regulating the opening and closing of the blood–testis barrier (BTB). This in turn regulates the passage of pre-leptotene and leptotene spermatocytes across the BTB at stages VIII-XI of the seminiferous epithelial cycle. This review summarizes recent advances of studies on TGF-βs in the testis, highlighting their regulatory role in TJ dynamics.