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Keywords:

  • Principal and clear cells;
  • orchidectomy;
  • efferent duct ligation;
  • lumicrine testicular factor

ABSTRACT: Cystic fibrosis is the most common serious autosomal recessive condition in whites, and more than 95% of men with cystic fibrosis are infertile. The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), a cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-regulated chloride channel, has been localized in the efferent ducts; however, to our knowledge, its expression and regulation in the epididymis by testicular factors have not been examined. In the present study, these parameters were examined immunocytochemically by the light microscope with an anti-CFTR antibody in Bouin-fixed, paraffin-embedded control adult rat epididymides and both orchidectomized adult rats with or without testosterone supplementation and efferent duct—ligated rats sacrificed at different time points. In control animals, a thick dense band of immunoperoxidase reaction product was visualized over the apical plasma membrane of the principal cells but not their microvilli. The apical band was prominent only in the corpus and cauda regions. While there was no CFTR expression in basal cells, clear cells of the corpus and cauda regions showed a weak-to-moderate band of apical plasma membrane staining. An examination of orchidectomized, orchidectomized and testosterone, and efferent duct—ligated rats revealed that CFTR was no longer expressed as an intense band on the apical plasma membrane of the principal cells of the corpus and cauda regions. However, under these conditions, an intense apical/supranuclear reaction was noted in the form of small vesicular structures. Clear cells were unaffected by the different experimental treatments. Together, these data indicate that CFTR is expressed in a cell- and region-specific manner and that, while its synthesis in principal cells is not under the control of testicular factors, targeting to the apical plasma membrane is regulated by a testicular luminal factor.