Morphology and Aquaporin Immunohistochemistry of the Uterine Tube of Saanen Goats(Capra hircus): Comparison Throughout the Reproductive Cycle

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The expression of six different aquaporins (AQP1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9), integral membrane water channels that facilitate bi-directional passive movement of water, was investigated by immunohistochemistry in the uterine tube of pre-pubertal and adult Saanen goats (Capra hircus), comparing the different phases of the oestrous cycle. Regional morphology and secretory processes were markedly different during the goat oestrous cycle. The tested AQP molecules showed different expression patterns in comparison with already studied species. AQP1-immunoreactivity was evidenced at the endothelium of blood vessels and in nerve fibres, regardless of the tubal tract and cycle period. AQP4-immunoreactivity was shown on the lateral plasmalemma in the basal third of the epithelial cells at infundibulum and ampulla level in the cycling goats, more evidently during follicular than during luteal phase. No AQP4-immunoreactivity was noticed at the level of the isthmus region, regardless of the cycle phase. AQP5-immunoreactivity, localized at the apical surface of epithelial cells, increased from pre-puberty to adulthood. Thereafter, AQP5-immunoreactivity was prominent during the follicular phase, when it strongly decorated the apical plasmalemma of all epithelial cells at ampullary level. During luteal phase, immunoreactivity was discontinuous, being weak to strong at the apex of the secretory cells protruding into the lumen. In the isthmus region, the strongest AQP5-immunoreactivity was seen during follicular phase, with a clear localization in the apical plasmalemma of all the epithelial cells and also on the lateral plasmalemma. AQP2, 3 and 9 were undetectable all along the goat uterine tube. Likely, a collaboration of different AQP molecules sustains the fluid production in the goat uterine tube. AQP1-mediated transudation from the blood capillaries, together with permeation of the epithelium by AQP4 in the basal rim of the epithelial cells and final intervening of apical AQP5, could be involved in fluid production as well as in secretory processes.

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