A dense network of dendritic cells populates the murine epididymis

Nicolas Da Silva, Virna Cortez-Retamozo, Hans Christian Reinecker, Moritz Wildgruber, Eric Hill, Dennis Brown, Filip K. Swirski, Mikael J. Pittet, Sylvie Breton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


One of the most intriguing aspects of male reproductive physiology is the ability to generate spermatogenic cells - which are 'foreign' to the host - without triggering immune activation. After leaving the testis, spermatozoa enter the epididymis where they mature and are stored. In this study, we report a previously unrecognized dense network of dendritic cells (DCs) located at the base of the epididymal epithelium. This network was detected in transgenic mice expressing CD11c-EYFP and CX3CR1-GFP reporters. Epididymal DCs (eDCs) establish intimate interactions with the epithelium and project long dendrites between epithelial cells toward the lumen. We show that isolated eDCs express numerous leukocyte markers described previously in other organs that are in contact with the external environment, and present and cross-present ovalbumin to T cells in vitro. eDCs are, therefore, strategically positioned to regulate the complex interplay between immune tolerance and activation, a balance that is fundamental to male fertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-663
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Cell Biology


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