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Carol G. Swan and N. L. Poyser

Summary. The endogenous concentrations of three PGs in the vas deferens of rabbits and rats were low (5–50 ng/100 mg tissue), although PGE-2 and PGF-2α were present in greater quantities than 6-keto-PGF-1α. Homogenates of rat and rabbit vas deferens synthesized these three PGs in large quantities during a 90 min incubation period. PGE-2 was the major PG synthesized by the rat vas deferens, followed by PGF-2α and 6-keto-PGF-1α. PG production by the rabbit vas deferens was lower than in the rat and PGF-2α was the major PG formed.

None of the prostanoids tested (PGE-1, PGE-2, PGD-2, ICI 79939, ICI 81008 (fluoprostenol), 9,11-epoxymethano PGH-2, and 11,9-epoxymethano PGH-2) in concentrations up to 1–20 μg/ml altered the tone of the rabbit or rat vas deferens. PGI-2 was more potent than PGE-2 or PGF-2α in potentiating responses of the rabbit vas deferens to noradrenaline but was less potent than PGF-2 or PGE-1 in inhibiting responses to field stimulation. No consistent effects of these three PGs on responses of the rat vas deferens to noradrenaline administration were observed. PGE-2 and PGE-1, but not PGI-2, had only a small inhibitory effect on the responses of the rat vas deferens to field stimulation. None of the other prostanoids tested affected the responses of the vas deferens to noradrenaline or to field stimulation in either species. It is concluded that, while PGs may not directly affect the tone of the vas deferens, they may affect the contractility of the vas deferens by pre-junctional actions in the rabbit and rat, and by post-junctional actions in the rabbit. These actions of PGs (confined to PGE-2, PGF-2α and PGI-2) may influence sperm transport along the vas deferens.

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Lais Cavalca Cardoso, Aline Rosa Nascimento, Carine Royer, Catarina Segreti Porto and Maria Fatima Magalhaes Lazari

We have previously shown that the rat testis and vas deferens contain high levels of the relaxin receptor, RXFP1. The present study was undertaken to determine the expression of relaxin in these tissues, and the effect of exogenous relaxin on Sertoli cell proliferation and on the mRNA levels of some proteins that may contribute to epithelial secretion and tissue reorganization in the vas deferens. Relaxin mRNA levels in testis and vas deferens were much lower than in the prostate. Sertoli cells seem to be an important source of relaxin mRNA in testis. Relaxin immunoreactivity was detected in the seminiferous epithelium but not in the interstitial compartment. The relaxin precursor was expressed in the vas deferens, and relaxin immunoreactivity was detected in apical cells of the vas deferens. Castration, but not treatment with the anti-estrogen ICI 182,780, dramatically reduced relaxin mRNA levels in the prostate and vas deferens, and this effect was prevented by testosterone. Rxfp1 mRNA levels in the vas deferens and prostate were not affected by castration or treatment with ICI 182,780. Exogenous relaxin increased the incorporation of 3H-thymidine in cultured Sertoli cells, and treatment of the vas deferens with 100 ng/ml relaxin increased the mRNA levels for the cystic fibrosis chloride channel (cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator) about three times, and doubled mRNA levels for the inducible form of nitric oxide synthase and metalloproteinase 7. These results suggest that locally produced relaxin acts as an autocrine or paracrine agent in the testis and vas deferens to affect spermatogenesis and seminal fluid composition.

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A. K. Susheela and A. Kumar

Summary. Fluoride was orally administered to rabbits at 10 mg NaF/kg body weight for 18 or 29 months. The animals were then killed and the structure of the testis, epididymis and vas deferens studied under light and scanning electron microscopes. In animals treated for 29 months, the spermatogenic cells in the seminiferous tubules were disrupted, degenerated and devoid of spermatozoa. In animals treated for 18 or 29 months, loss of cilia on the epithelial cells lining the lumen of the ductuli efferentes of the caput epididymidis and of stereocilia on the epithelial cells lining the lumen of the vas deferens was observed. In some regions of the epithelial lining of the lumen of the ductuli efferentes and vas deferens, the boundaries of the cells were not clear and appeared to be peeled off. Mucus droplets were abundant in the vas deferens of control animals, but absent in both the treated groups. Spermatogenesis ceased only in animals treated for 29 months. The difference in the structural changes observed in the testes of the 2 treated groups may have been due to the blood–testis barrier. It is concluded that ingestion of high concentrations of fluoride has harmful effects on the male reproductive system.

Keywords: fluoride toxicity; spermatogenesis; ductuli efferentes; rabbit

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C. Taragnat, M. Berger and Cl. Jean

Summary. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis revealed that the vas deferens of adult mouse contains a major protein. Mouse vas deferens protein is a basic glycoprotein with a molecular weight of 34 800 ± 300. The protein represents 17 ± 0·7% and 42 ± 2·4% of soluble proteins from homogenate and luminal fluid respectively, an estimate based on densitometric scanning of polyacrylamide gels. The protein originated from the vas deferens since it was not detected in blood plasma or in sexual organs and it was still present after ligation of the epididymis.

Changes in androgen status of the animal markedly affected the vas deferens protein. After castration a progressive decrease in the protein was observed and its relative percentage dropped to 2 ± 0·4% after 45 days. The concentration of the protein returned to precastration levels after 2 weeks of testosterone treatment but oestradiol, progesterone and corticosterone were ineffective in this respect. The vas deferens protein was not synthesized in significant amounts until animals were 20 days old and its concentration increased rapidly from 20 to 30 days in concert with the pubertal increase of androgens in the vas deferens.

Keywords: vas deferens; major protein; androgens; mouse

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EJ Peirce, HD Moore, CM Leigh and WG Breed

The cauda epididymidis, with its relatively cool temperature (32-35 degrees C), is considered to be the main site of sperm storage in male mammals. However, in the adult male spinifex hopping mouse, Notomys alexis, similar numbers of spermatozoa are found in the vas deferens to those in the cauda epididymidis. The present study shows that, unlike in the laboratory mouse in which spermatozoa of the vas deferens are found mainly in the epididymal region of the duct, spermatozoa in the hopping mouse are localized mainly to the middle and urethral regions of the vas deferens which lies in the inguinal and lower abdominal region of the body cavity. After ligation of the vas deferens close to its connection with the epididymis, many spermatozoa in the vas deferens retain the potential for motility for up to 2 weeks, indicating that the viability of spermatozoa is not compromised by being restricted to core body temperature. This urethral region of the vas deferens, in which spermatozoa reside, has a highly divergent structural organization compared with that of common laboratory rodents in which there is an expanded lumen with a network of epithelial folds. Ultrastructural observations of the cells lining the duct indicate that there are not any marked differences in morphology compared with the cells lining the duct in common laboratory murids, but the infoldings of the vas deferens of the hopping mouse are highly vascular which might facilitate supply of oxygen and nutrients to the spermatozoa residing in the lumen.

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Chemical analyses have been made on fluid from the testis, caput epididymis, cauda epididymis and vas deferens of the ram. The most striking finding was a decrease in the concentration of sodium and chloride in passing from the testis through the epididymis to the vas deferens with a corresponding increase in glycerylphosphorylcholine (gpc) and total phosphorus. The concentration of protein and total orcinol-reactive carbohydrate was also much higher in the epididymis and vas deferens than in the testis. The synthesis of gpc has been demonstrated in the head and tail of the rabbit epididymis both in vivo and in vitro using 32P orthophosphate.

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Hannele Yki-Järvinen, T. Wahlström and M. Seppälä

Summary. The biotin—avidin immunoperoxidase staining method and antisera against highly purified porcine relaxin were utilized to localize relaxin in the male genital tract. Formalin-fixed tissue specimens from the prostate gland, the testis, epididymis, vas deferens and the seminal vesicle were studied. Specific relaxin immunoactivity was seen in the glandular epithelium of the prostate and also in the glandular epithelium of the seminal vesicle and in the ampullary part of the vas deferens. The testis and epididymis were negative.

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MN Ghabriel, JJ Lu, G Hermanis, C Zhu and BP Setchell

The endothelial barrier antigen (EBA) is a protein expressed specifically by the endothelial cells of the rat brain barrier vessels. This antigen has been described as a 'barrier protein' and is used as a marker for the competent blood-brain barrier. A blood-testis barrier has also been described. However, unlike the blood-brain barrier, which is formed by endothelial cells, the blood-testis barrier is formed mainly by the Sertoli cells, which provide an isolated environment for spermatogenic cells within the seminiferous tubules. Testicular blood vessels express the erythroid glucose transporter protein and other markers, which are strongly expressed in brain blood vessels, and may contribute to the blood-testis barrier. This study was carried out to determine whether Sertoli cells or testicular blood vessels express EBA. Tissues of other organs were used as controls for EBA expression. EBA was expressed by the endothelial cells in most microvessels of the testis, and in a few vessels of the epididymis, seminal vesicle, prostate gland, vas deferens and bladder-neck region. Furthermore, EBA was strongly and consistently detected in epithelial cells of the rete testis and dorsolateral prostate gland, and in a few epithelial cells of the ventral prostate gland, the seminal vesicle and the coagulating gland. However, Sertoli cells, which are the main site of the blood-testis barrier, were negative for EBA. In conclusion, EBA may have a wider role in rat tissues than has been previously appreciated.

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Gail S. Prins and L. J. D. Zaneveld

Summary. The movement of radio-opaque medium in the vas deferens of rabbits during sexual rest, after sexual stimulation, and after ejaculation, was followed. Bilateral injections of 20 μl Ethiodol were given at the vas–epididymal junction in the urethral direction. Serial radiographs revealed proximal transport of the dye (towards the testis) within 24 h and total containment in the cauda epididymidis within 1–4 days. Subsequently, small amounts of dye moved from the epididymis through the vas and out of the urethra during sexual rest until no dye remained (11 days–8 weeks). Animals with a ligated vas deferens showed no decrease in dye density. Sexual stimulation moved the dye from the epididymis into the vas. The dye was then either rapidly transported proximally during subsequent rest or removed distally if ejaculation followed stimulation. Ejaculation removed some vasal and epididymal dye via the urethra; however, dye left in the vas after ejaculation was rapidly (< 30 min) transported to the proximal duct and then into the epididymis by 24 h. It is concluded that vasal contents are transported in both urethral and testicular directions during sexual rest and that, after stimulation and ejaculation, the rate of proximal transport is increased. This may be indicative of a sperm removal mechanism by the vas deferens which involves the maintenance of an optimal sperm number in the cauda epididymidis at all times.

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White, Larsen & Wales (1959) obtained semen from the epididymis of the ram by establishing a fistula into the vas deferens. This method enabled the authors to make observations on epididymal semen without contamination by other accessory gland secretions and allowed them to carry out comparative studies on normally ejaculated spermatozoa. The technique was subsequently improved by Ewy & Bielański (1962). Bennett & Rowson (1963) developed a technique for cannulating the vas deferens in the bull, which was modified by Amann, Hokanson & Almquist (1963) and used in further studies on the output of spermatozoa in the ram by Bielański & Ewy (1966), Tischner (1966, 1967) and Zełtobriuch, Łoginowa & Manuiłow (1966). This communication describes a technique for cannulation of the vas deferens in the boar. Three Landrace boars were used. Their ages