In the testis, the base of the Sertoli cells is in contact with the basement membrane matrix, in which the laminins constitute the major noncollagenous components. We have previously demonstrated that antibodies against a preparation enriched in basement membranes of seminiferous tubules (STBM) or a noncollagenous fraction of STBM passively transferred induced modifications to the basement membranes and focal sloughing of the seminiferous epithelium in the rat. In the present report, we tested the effect of passive immunization with anti-laminin IgG on the limiting membrane of the seminiferous tubules, spermatogenesis, and maintenance of the blood-testis barrier in the adult guinea pig. Rabbit antibodies to laminin 1 (IgG fraction) were injected in adult male guinea pigs (GP). Nonimmunized GP and GP immunized with normal rabbit serum IgG were used as controls. Measurements of variations in the diameter and lumen of the tubules and in the size of individual components of the tubular limiting membrane showed that the highest percentage of tubules with reduced lumen occurred 30 days after passive immunization with anti-laminin, when the limiting membrane was thickest and lesions to the seminiferous epithelium were most severe. The lesions included thickening of the limiting membrane, infolding in the basal lamina, deposits of immune complexes coincident with sloughing of pachytene spermatocytes and spermatids, and vacuolization of the Sertoli cells. Mononuclear cell infiltration of the tubules was rare. Permeability tracer studies revealed that Sertoli cell tight junctions remained impermeable. Fifty and 80 days after treatment, the basement membrane of the tubules and the progression of the spermatogenesis were normal. Passive immunization with anti-laminin IgG provided a valuable experimental model for the in vivo study of the influence of the basement membrane on the issue of spermatogenesis and the integrity of the seminiferous epithelium.
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