Sertoli cells maintain leydig cell number and peritubular myoid cell activity in the adult mouse testis

Diane Rebourcet, Peter J O'Shaughnessy, Ana Monteiro, Laura Milne, Lyndsey Cruickshanks, Nathan Jeffrey, Florian Guillou, Tom C Freeman, Rod T Mitchell, Lee B Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Sertoli cells are critical regulators of testis differentiation and development. In the adult, however, their known function is restricted largely to maintenance of spermatogenesis. To determine whether the Sertoli cells regulate other aspects of adult testis biology we have used a novel transgenic mouse model in which Amh-Cre induces expression of the receptor for Diphtheria toxin (iDTR) specifically within Sertoli cells. This causes controlled, cell-specific and acute ablation of the Sertoli cell population in the adult animal following Diphtheria toxin injection. Results show that Sertoli cell ablation leads to rapid loss of all germ cell populations. In addition, adult Leydig cell numbers decline by 75% with the remaining cells concentrated around the rete and in the sub-capsular region. In the absence of Sertoli cells, peritubular myoid cell activity is reduced but the cells retain an ability to exclude immune cells from the seminiferous tubules. These data demonstrate that, in addition to support of spermatogenesis, Sertoli cells are required in the adult testis both for retention of the normal adult Leydig cell population and for support of normal peritubular myoid cell function. This has implications for our understanding of male reproductive disorders and wider androgen-related conditions affecting male health.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere105687
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2014


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