To protect the male germ cells from adverse immune reaction, the male reproductive system adopts special immune environment such as immunoprivileged status. The male genital organs can be infected by various microorganisms via hematogenous dissemination and ascending genitourinary tracts. To overcome the immunoprivileged status, the male genital organs also adopt their own innate defense against microbial infection. The tissue-specific cells in the male reproductive system are well equipped with innate immune machineries, including pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and their negatively regulatory system. PRR-initiated immune responses must be tightly regulated by the negative regulatory system for the maintenance of immune homeostasis. The immune homeostasis can be disrupted by unrestrictive innate immune response, which may lead to inflammatory conditions in the male genital tracts, an important etiological factor contributing to male infertility. This chapter describes the current understanding of the innate immune responses in the male reproductive system and their effects on male fertility.
Part of the book: Innate Immunity in Health and Disease