Testicular macrophages: guardians of fertility


  • Noushin Mossadegh-Keller
  • M.H. Sieweke


  • Cellular Immunology


  • Cell Immunol 330: 120-125


  • Macrophages are innate immune cells present in essentially every organ of the body with dedicated tissue specific functions. We will present in this review the unique properties and functions of macrophage populations residing in the testis, an immune-privileged organ. Testicular macrophages (tMΦ) could be seen as guardians of fertility due to their immunosuppressive functions protecting spermatogenesis from auto immune-attack. They exhibit testis specific functions with essential roles in normal testis homeostasis and fetal testicular development. Recently, two distinct testicular macrophage populations have been characterized based on different localization, morphology, gene expression profiles, developmental origin and postnatal development. We will discuss the importance of these two testicular macrophage populations for organ specific functions such as testosterone production and spermatogenesis, as well as their role in establishing immuno-privilege highlighting the contributions of macrophages to male fertility.