Scanning Electron Microscopic Study of the Functional Anatomy of the Porcine Oviductal Mucosa


Departamento de Producción Animal y Ciencia de los Alimentos, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain


A three-dimensional model has not been clearly established for the porcine oviductal mucosa. The oviducts of 12 cyclic sows were examined by Scanning Electron Microscopy to study the structure and nature of the mucosal arrangement of the oviduct. Epithelial cyclic changes were also studied. The oviductal infundibulum is an asymmetric funnel-shaped structure surrounding the ostium, in which a wide and a narrow side can be distinguished. The mucosa is more complex in the narrow side, showing numerous and tortuous longitudinal primary folds, while the mucosa becomes simpler in the wide side. Around the ostium abdominale wide secondary folds form cul-de-sacs, with their opening pointing in ovarian direction. Areas between folds throughout the lumen of the oviduct show a high-degree of complexity. Inter-fold spaces are occupied by a system of irregular grooves and pockets, with the presence of basal crypts in the caudal oviduct. Marked variations were observed in the oviductal epithelium depending on the oviductal segment, basal or apical areas of the folds, and phase of the oestrous cycle. Cyclical changes were observed in the infundibulum and ampulla, so that prominent and numerous ciliated cells lined apical areas of the folds in the follicular phase; whereas secretary cells were predominant throughout all areas of epithelial surface in the luteal phase. The oestrous cycle phase appeared do not affect the epithelial population cells of the caudal segments of the oviduct: ciliated and secretory cells uniformly lined apical and basal areas of the folds. The topography of the oviduct provides a complex system of regulation, which may influence not only the passage of cells, but also movement of fluid within the oviductal canal.