Effects of altered epididymal sperm transit time on sperm quality

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Fernandez, Carla Dal Bianco
Porto, Elaine Manoela
Arena, Arielle Cristina
Kempinas, Wilma de Grava [UNESP]

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The epididymal sperm transit time seems to have an important role in the process of sperm maturation, and it seems that alterations to the transit can harm the process. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the influence of altered sperm transit time through the epididymis on sperm parameters and fertility of rats, as well as the role of testosterone in the alterations. Sprague-Dawley adult male rats were randomly assigned to four different groups and were treated for 12 days: (i) 10 mu g/rat/day DES, to accelerate the transit; (ii) 6.25 mg/kg/day guanethidine sulphate, to delay the transit; (iii) same treatment as group 1, plus androgen supplementation; (iv) control animals received the vehicles. Guanethidine treatment delayed the sperm transit time through the epididymal cauda, provoking increased sperm reserves in this region. Animals exposed to DES showed an acceleration of sperm transit time in the epididymis, and consequently decreased sperm density in both epididymal regions, the caput-corpus and cauda, and diminished sperm motility. In both cases sperm production was not altered. Testosterone supplementation was able to restore the transit time to values close to normality, as they were higher than in the control rats. The same occurred in relation to sperm motility. Rats exposed to DES presented lower fertility after in utero artificial insemination using sperm collected from the proximal cauda epididymis. Therefore, it was concluded that the acceleration of rat sperm transit time appeared to harm normal sperm maturation, thus decreasing sperm quality and fertility capacity, in an androgen-dependent way.



artificial insemination, diethylstilbestrol, epididymis, fertility, guanethidine, rat, sperm transit time

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International Journal of Andrology. Malden: Wiley-blackwell, v. 31, n. 4, p. 427-437, 2008.