Summary. Antiserum against rat androgen-dependent secretory epididymal protein DE (raised in rabbit) was added to suspensions of rat spermatozoa from the cauda epididymidis which were used for artificial insemination. While control spermatozoa fertilized 41·6% of oocytes, those exposed to antiserum to protein DE fertilized only 6·6% (P< 0·01). An equal amount of normal rabbit serum (NRS) did not cause inhibition (33·1%). To study the entry of antibodies into the epididymis, caudal tubules were cultured for 24 h and the fertility of the contained spermatozoa was assessed by artificial insemination. Culture in Medium 199 alone or with NRS resulted in spermatozoa which fertilized 52% of oocytes while the presence of antiserum to protein DE in the culture medium yielded spermatozoa which fertilized only 16·6% of oocytes (P < 0·01). These results suggest (1) that the epididymal protein DE might be part of a sperm structure involved in the fertilization process, and (2) that, at least under the present culture conditions, immunoglobulins penetrate the epididymal epithelium in sufficient numbers to reduce fertility significantly.
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