Journal Article

Testicular cell junction: A novel target for male contraception

Even though various contraceptive methods are widely available, the number of unwanted pregnancies is still on the rise in developing countries, pressurizing the already resource limited nations. One of the major underlying reasons is the lack of effective, low cost, and safe contraceptives for couples. During the past decade, some studies were performed using animal models to decipher if the Sertoli-germ cell junction in the testis is a target for male fertility regulation. Some of these study models were based on the use of hormones and/or chemicals to disrupt the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (e.g., androgen-based implants or pills) and others utilized a panel of chemical entities or synthetic peptides to perturb spermatogenesis either reversibly or non-reversibly. Among them, adjudin, a potential male contraceptive, is one of the compounds exerting its action on the unique adherens junctions, known as ectoplasmic specializations, in the testis. Since the testis is equipped with inter-connected cell junctions, an initial targeting of one junction type may affect the others and these accumulative effects could lead to spermatogenic arrest. This review attempts to cover an innovative theme on how male infertility can be achieved by inducing junction instability and defects in the testis, opening a new window of research for male contraceptive development. While it will still take much time and effort of intensive investigation before a product can reach the consumable market, these findings have provided hope for better family planning involving men.