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Ashley I Yudin, Theodore L Tollner, Cathy A Treece, Robert Kays, Gary N Cherr, James W Overstreet and Charles L Bevins

Surface components of sperm isolated from the cauda epididymides were stabilized by whole sperm fixation for immunization of rabbits. The resulting immunoglobulins (Igs) recognized a single protein of 130 kDa (non-reduced) or 54–57 kDa (reduced) on western blots of cauda sperm. Igs recognized the same 54–57 kDa protein band on whole tissue blots of the corpus and cauda epididymidis and vas deferens. No immunoreactive bands were detected on blots of the prostate, seminal vesicles, testes, caput epididymis, or any of various non-reproductive tissues. Removal of sperm from the vas deferens prior to blotting eliminated the detection of the sperm antigen. Antibodies raised to synthetic peptides, identical in amino acid sequence to two unique spans of DEFB22, recognized the same 130/54–57 kDa antigen on western blots of both caudal sperm and the purified antigen isolated with the anti-sperm Ig. From indirect immunofluorescence, both the anti-sperm and anti-peptide Igs appeared to localize to the entire sperm surface, a pattern confirmed at the ultrastructural level. Real-time PCR identified the corpus epididymides as the major site of expression of DEFB22, with negligible expression in the testes, caput epididymides, and vas deferens. Immunostaining of epididymal sections showed DEFB22 being released into the lumen at the distal caput/proximal corpus, with sperm becoming intensely coated with DEFB22 as they reached the distal corpus. Most uterine sperm recovered from mice 4 h following copulation exhibited DEFB22 coating the entire sperm surface. By contrast, some sperm recovered from the oviduct and cumulus extracellular matrix showed loss of DEFB22 from the sperm head.

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A. Talo, Ulla-Marjut Jaakkola and Merja Markkula-Viitanen

Summary. Smooth muscle electrical activity was recorded with suction electrodes from the partly or completely uncoiled epididymal duct of the rat in vitro. The electrical activity of the cauda epididymidis consisted of one or few spikes followed by a plateau of 1–2 sec. The frequency of electrical activity declined from the thicker-walled initial segment of the thin-walled initial segment, was increased to the level seen in the initial segment in the thicker, major portion of the caput epididymidis, declined in the corpus and fell steeply in the cauda epididymidis towards the vas deferens. Electrical activity spread over long distances in the distal cauda and epididymal vas. Elsewhere in the epididymis activity remained synchronous only for a short period in short segments.

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M. M. Misro, Harpreet Kaur, Sudha Mahajan and S. K. Guha

Summary. An implantable miniature biogalvanic cell was developed to kill the spermatozoa in the vas deferens by an electric current. Experiments in vitro and in vivo showed that a combination of aluminium/silver electrodes connected with platinum wires with the vas deferens fluid as an electrolyte is effective in killing spermatozoa. Female rats paired with males having biogalvanic devices in the vas deferens, which remained patent, did not produce any young.

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S. Aizawa and Y. Nishimune

Summary. Cryptorchid testes from adult mice were incubated in calf serum-supplemented medium. There was an effective differentiation of adult type A spermatogonia up to the pachytene stage of meiotic division which resembled the process of spermatogenesis in vivo. In the absence of calf serum, type A spermatogonia did not differentiate at all. They differentiated when the serum was present for the first day, but was absent for the rest of cultivation.

These results indicate that serum is necessary for only the early process of spermatogenesis from type A spermatogonia in vitro and not for the further processes of germ cell differentiation. Type A spermatogonia cultured in serum-free medium retained the ability to differentiate for at least 3 days.

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Leena Laitinen and A. Talo

Summary. Electrical and mechanical activities of the rat epididymis (at 29 ± 1·1 cm from the junction of the vas deferens) were recorded in vitro. The frequency of the spontaneous activity was 2·7 ± 0·15/min. Adrenaline, phenylephrine, isoprenaline and carbachol increased the basal tension, frequency and amplitude of the contractions. Phentolamine, an alpha-adrenergic blocking agent, abolished the stimulatory effects of adrenaline and isoprenaline, but not those of carbachol. Propranolol and metoprolol, beta-adrenergic blocking agents, did not inhibit the stimulatory effects of isoprenaline. Atropine abolished the response to carbachol. The results suggest that alpha-adrenergic receptors but not beta-receptors are present in the rat epididymis.

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B. A. BALDO and B. BOETTCHER

Summary.

Using a haemagglutination technique, heterologous antisera to both the seminal plasma and spermatozoa of man, possum, rabbit and ram and the whole homogenized epididymis and vas deferens of the rat, were found to show immunological cross-reaction with homologous erythrocytes. Cross-reaction between rabbit antiserum to rooster seminal plasma and chicken erythrocytes was observed, but cross-reaction was not seen with antiserum to rooster spermatozoa.

Rabbit antiserum to bull seminal plasma haemolysed bovine erythrocytes, but haemolysis was not observed with antiserum to bull spermatozoa.

The results obtained are discussed with particular reference to other papers reporting such cross-reacting antigens.

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ALAN G. HUNTER

Summary.

Sperm-specific and sperm-coating antigens in rabbit seminal constituents were studied using agar-gel diffusion and immuno-electrophoresis. The antigenicity of ejaculated rabbit spermatozoa was due to two glycoprotein sperm-specific antigens of testicular origin and twelve seminal plasma antigens which coated the spermatozoa during passage through the reproductive tract. Two of the sperm-coating antigens originated in the testis, two in the epididymis and eight above the level of the vas deferens. Relationships between sperm-coating antigens and capacitation, and sperm-coating antigens and prevention of immunologically induced aspermatogenesis or immunologically induced infertility in the female were proposed.

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PHILIP J. DZIUK and H. W. NORTON

Summary.

Rabbits and boars were used to study the effect on the ejaculation process of various drugs known to affect the autonomic nervous system. Of those tried, only atropine had an effect, causing linear reduction, as the dose increased, of the logarithm of the number of spermatozoa ejaculated by rabbits. In the boar, the volume of semen was reduced, but at the dose levels employed total spermatozoa per ejaculate changed little. This suggests that the male accessory sex glands are partly controlled by the parasympathetic system and that this system also has an influence on spermatozoon movement from the epididymis through the vas deferens.

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Ingrid G. Noske and Mitzi Gooding

Summary. An antiserum raised in a goat to a uteroglobin-like protein isolated from uterine fluid of oestrous rabbits was used in an immune fluorescence test to localize an antigen present in the reproductive tract of oestrous and pseudopregnant rabbits and mammary gland tissue. The antigen was also present in the vas deferens and seminal vesicle, but not in testis. Non-reproductive tissues, such as lung, small intestine, bladder and thyroid showed specific fluorescent staining which was eliminated or significantly reduced by absorption of the antiserum with a purified uteroglobin preparation.

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R P Amann and D N R Veeramachaneni

Cryptorchidism is failure of one or both testes to descend into the scrotum. Primary fault lies in the testis. We provide a unifying cross-species interpretation of testis descent and urge the use of precise terminology. After differentiation, a testis is relocated to the scrotum in three sequential phases: abdominal translocation, holding a testis near the internal inguinal ring as the abdominal cavity expands away, along with slight downward migration; transinguinal migration, moving a cauda epididymidis and testis through the abdominal wall; and inguinoscrotal migration, moving a s.c. cauda epididymidis and testis to the bottom of the scrotum. The gubernaculum enlarges under stimulation of insulin-like peptide 3, to anchor the testis in place during gradual abdominal translocation. Concurrently, testosterone masculinizes the genitofemoral nerve. Cylindrical downward growth of the peritoneal lining into the gubernaculum forms the vaginal process, cremaster muscle(s) develop within the gubernaculum, and the cranial suspensory ligament regresses (testosterone not obligatory for latter). Transinguinal migration of a testis is rapid, apparently mediated by intra-abdominal pressure. Testosterone is not obligatory for correct inguinoscrotal migration of testes. However, normally testosterone stimulates growth of the vaginal process, secretion of calcitonin gene-related peptide by the genitofemoral nerve to provide directional guidance to the gubernaculum, and then regression of the gubernaculum and constriction of the inguinal canal. Cryptorchidism is more common in companion animals, pigs, or humans (2–12%) than in cattle or sheep (≤1%). Laboratory animals rarely are cryptorchid. In respect to non-scrotal locations, abdominal testes predominate in cats, dogs, and horses. Inguinal testes predominate in rabbits, are common in horses, and occasionally are found in cats and dogs. S.c. testes are found in cattle, cats and dogs, but are most common in humans.