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Formation of the Epididymal Fluid Microenvironment

  • P. Y. D. Wong
  • X. D. Gong
  • G. P. H. Leung
  • B. L. Y. Cheuk

Abstract

It was thirty years ago when it was demonstrated that spermatozoa have to go through maturational changes in the epididymis before they can fertilize the ovum (Orgebin-Crist, 1967; Bedford, 1967). Since then, there has been a growing focus on the physiology and biochemistry of the epididymis. This burst of epididymal research was largely driven by the recognition that contraceptive agents that interfere with sperm maturation in the epididymis have many advantages over those that suppress sperm production in the testis. The former agents are expected to have a quick onset of action, rapid reversibility upon withdrawal, and reduced chance of mutagenic damage and endocrine impairment of libido. These advantages have been borne out by α-chlorohydrin (Coppola, 1969) and the chlorinated sugars (Ford and Waites, 1980) which act by interfering with sperm metabolism in the epididymis. However, interest in these agents as potential male contraceptives soon waned due to their neurotoxicity. In recent years, the advent of molecular biology techniques has led to t he identification and cloning of genes encoding sperm-coating or epididymal-specific proteins which can be targeted for immunocontraception. However, for these methods to be effective, organ-specific delivery methods of antisense oligonucleotides/antibodies will have to be developed. Reduction of the prominent constituents of the epididymal fluid viz. α-glucosidase and L-carnitine or enhancement of sperm transport through the epididymis by pharmacological means has not led to infertility in animals (Cooper and Yeung, 1999). Despite the consensus held that the epididymis is indispensable for the full expression of male fertility, attempts to induce infertility via an epididymal approach remain elusive.

Keywords

Cystic Fibrosis Sertoli Cell Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Efferent Duct Anion Secretion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Y. D. Wong
    • 1
  • X. D. Gong
    • 1
  • G. P. H. Leung
    • 1
  • B. L. Y. Cheuk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Faculty of MedicineThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin, N.T.Hong Kong

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