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Biol Cell. 2005 Jun;97(6):385-95.

Aquaporin-1 and -9 are differentially regulated by oestrogen in the efferent ductule epithelium and initial segment of the epididymis.

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Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Illinois, 2001 S. Lincoln, Urbana, IL 61802-6199, USA.



Efferent ductules reabsorb more than 90% of the rete testis fluid, a process that involves ion transporters and AQP (aquaporin) water channels. Oestrogen has been shown to modulate the expression of the ion transporters involved in this activity, but reports of AQP regulation in the male tract have been confounding. To understand better the regulation of AQP1 and AQP9, we investigated their expression in rat efferent ductules and initial segment of the epididymis after treatment with the pure antioestrogen ICI 182,780 or bilateral efferent duct ligation, or castration, followed by hormone replacement.


Results show that AQP9 is modulated by oestrogen in the efferent ductule epithelium, but not in the initial segment of the epididymis. DHT (5alpha-dihydrotestosterone) also modulated AQP9 in efferent ductules. AQP9 was down-regulated by the antioestrogen in efferent ductules on day 45 post-treatment, which occurred before the non-ciliated cells had shown significant loss of microvilli. DHT, but not oestradiol, modulated AQP9 expression in the initial segment of the epididymis. In contrast, testosterone, DHT, oestrogen or the antioestrogen did not alter AQP1 staining, indicating constitutive expression of AQP1 in the efferent ductule epithelium. AQP1 expression was induced in peritubular cells of efferent ductules and in the initial segment of the epididymis after castration and long-term treatment with the antioestrogen. Although peritubular AQP1 staining in efferent ductules was partially reversed by the androgens, it was not reversed after any treatment in the initial segment of the epididymis.


These results demonstrate that efferent ductules are unique in requiring both oestrogen and androgen to regulate an important mediator of fluid reabsorption, whereas the initial segment is dependent only on androgen stimulation.

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