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Cell Tissue Res. 1983;233(3):523-37.

Ultrastructural and immunohistochemical studies of rat epididymis.


The anatomical distribution of smooth muscle actin, myosin, fibronectin and basement membrane has been investigated immunohistochemically, using the indirect immunofluorescence technique, in the rat epididymis. The findings were correlated with the ultrastructural organization of the organ. Actin was found to be distributed in the stereociliary region of the epithelial principal cells and in the terminal web region. Actin was also visible along the base of the epithelium. Myosin was detected in the terminal web and in the terminal bar regions of the epithelium. The contractile cells showed a strong stain for both proteins. Basement membrane immunoreactivity was distributed along the epithelial basement membrane and around the contractile cells of the wall. In the cauda, between the epithelium and the contractile cell layers, the lamina propria, containing blood vessels and a thin layer of cells, was negative for all antigens investigated. Fibronectin showed a granular distribution around the contractile cells, mainly in the cauda. The ultrastructural study showed only thin (5-6 nm in diameter) filaments in the stereocilia and terminal web region. Thin filaments were also visible in the cytoplasm of the basal cells, thus suggesting a contractile function of this cell type. The heterogeneous appearance of the contractile cells of the wall seemed to support the different contractile pattern of the epididymal regions: caput, corpus and cauda. The cells present in the lamina propria showed cytoplasmic vesicles with dark granules resembling the "A" cell granules of the endocrine pancreas and gut mucosa cells.

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