Aquaporin 9 is expressed in the epididymis of immature and mature pigs

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Abstract

Aquaporins (AQPs) are channel proteins that facilitate the transepithelial and bidirectional movement of water. AQP9 is an aquaporin that is expressed in the mammalian epididymis. This water transport contributes to epididymal sperm concentration. This study aimed to examine the morphology of epididymal epithelium in piglets and boars, as well as the expression and immunolocalization of AQP9. The piglets presented an epididymal epithelium in differentiation with principal, basal and apical cells. The cellular population of the epididymal epithelium in boars consisted of principal, basal, apical, clear and narrow cells. The migratory cells known as halo cells were observed in the epididymis of both piglets and boars. AQP9 expression presented differences between piglets and boars. Moderate intensity of AQP9 immunoreaction was observed in the apical border of the epididymal epithelium of the caput and cauda regions in the piglet epididymis. A moderate-to-intense reaction for AQP9 was observed in the nuclei of epithelial cells of the three epididymal regions in the boar epididymis. The region of the cauda epididymis showed reactivity for AQP9 also in the apical border of the epithelium. It is believed that the AQP9 is already functional in piglets at only 1 week of age and is more active, playing a pivotal role in the caput and cauda regions of the epididymis. Moreover, the intense AQP9 expression in the apical border of epithelial cells in the cauda region of the boar epididymis suggests a higher performance of AQP9 in this region, where sperm complete their maturation process, stored and concentrated.

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