Epididymal epithelium: its contribution to the formation of a luminal fluid microenvironment

Microsc Res Tech. 1995 Jan 1;30(1):67-81. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1070300106.


To understand the process of sperm maturation, an understanding of interactions between the spermatozoa with the luminal fluid microenvironment and with the epididymal epithelium is necessary. The composition of epididymal luminal fluid of several species is well documented but the manner by which the epididymis contributes to the formation of this specialized milieu is not so well understood. A major role played by the epididymis is to finely regulate the movement of molecules into and out of the lumen. This ensures that as spermatozoa progress along the duct they are exposed to a continually changing, but optimal environment necessary for their maturation and survival. This review focusses on our current understanding of the contributions of the epididymal epithelium to the formation of a specialized luminal fluid microenvironment. The role of the blood-epididymis barrier, the composition of the epididymal luminal fluid, the permeability properties of the epididymal epithelium, and recent studies on a number of luminal fluid proteins and expression of the genes which encode these proteins are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Epididymis / physiology*
  • Epididymis / ultrastructure
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Extracellular Space / physiology
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology
  • Male
  • Sperm Maturation / physiology