Ultrastructural evidence for secretion from the epithelium of ampulla ductus deferentis of the fan-throated lizard Sitana ponticeriana Cuvier



Among reptiles, an ampulla ductus deferentis has been reported only in Squamata. Fairly detailed studies are available only for two species, the lizard Calotes versicolor (Fam: Agamidae) and the snake Seminatrix pygaea (Fam: Colubridae). The light microscopic study on C. versicolor revealed the ampulla to be a prominent organ, whereas the light and transmission electron microscopic study in S. pygaea revealed it to be discernable only in histological preparations. Further, the epithelium of the ductal portion of vas deferens as well as the ampulla of C. versicolor appears to contribute to the seminal plasma and can also phagocytose dead sperm, whereas in S. pygaea neither of these roles has been established. Thus, we hypothesize that there may be variations in the anatomy, histology, and the role of the vas deferens in general, and the ampulla in particular, of the squamate reptiles. In this study, the ductus deferens of the small fan-throated lizard Sitana ponticeriana (Fam: Agamidae) was subjected to light and transmission electron microscopic analysis. In this lizard the ampulla is more prominent than in C. versicolor. The epithelium of the ductal portion of vas deferens consists of principal cells (with features reflecting roles in endocytosis and phagocytosis of dead sperm), dark cells (which are absent in the epithelium of the ductal portion of vas deferens of snakes), and basal cells. The ampulla of S. ponticeriana is differentiated into storage and glandular portions. The epithelium of the storage portion is like that in the ductal portion of the vas deferens, whereas that of the glandular portion, consisting of dark and light principal cells and foamy cells, is tall and forms into smooth villous folds. All three cell types show evidence for a role in secretion, in all likelihood different from each other, for release into the lumen to contribute to seminal plasma. These cells do not provide evidence of a role in phagocytosis of dead sperm. It appears that within the Squamata, the ductal ampulla differs in structure as well as function. We suggest that the ductal ampulla of agamid lizards is a composite gland of the ampulla ductus deferentis and seminal vesicles of mammals. J. Morphol. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.