The distribution of drug-efflux pumps, P-gp, BCRP, MRP1 and MRP2, in the normal blood-testis barrier and in primary testicular tumours

J. Bart, H. Hollema, H. J.M. Groen, E. G.E. De Vries, N. H. Hendrikse, D. T. Sleijfer, T. D. Wegman, W. Vaalburg, W. T.A. Van Der Graaf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The drug-efflux pumps P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and multidrug resistance-associated protein 1 (MRP1) are present in the blood-testis barrier (BTB) and may hamper the delivery of cytotoxic drugs to the testis. The precise localisation of P-gp and MRP1 in testicular tissue and the presence of the efflux pumps MRP2 and breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) in the BTB are unknown. We therefore studied the localisation of these pumps in the BTB in normal testis (n=12), in non-seminoma (n=10) seminoma (n=10), and testicular lymphoma (n=9). Slides were scored semi-quantitatively for P-gp, MRP1, MRP2 and BCRP and blood vessels with factor VIII antibody. In normal testis, P-gp and BCRP were strongly expressed by myoid cells and luminal capillary endothelial wall and P-gp also by Leydig cells. MRP1 was observed at the basal side of Sertoli cells and on Leydig cells. MRP2 was only weakly expressed by myoid cells. Seminomas and non-seminomas expressed P-gp and/or BCRP and/or MRP1, lymphomas strongly expressed P-gp, weakly expressed BCRP and did not or showed weak expression of MRP1. There was very little staining for MRP2 in the tumours. Newly formed vessels in all tumours only expressed P-gp and BCRP. P-gp, BCRP and MRP1 are present in different cell layers of the normal testis, suggesting the optimal protection of spermatogenesis. In germ cell tumours, this expression pattern may explain the chemoresistance observed to P-gp, BCRP and MRP1 substrates. In germ cell tumours and testicular lymphomas, P-gp and BCRP expression by tumour cells and by newly formed vessels may also contribute to chemoresistance. These findings underscore the importance of removing the affected testis in cases of primary germ cell tumours and testicular lymphomas, irrespective of whether the patient has already undergone chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2064-2070
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2004

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