Seasonal and Ageing-Depending Changes of Aquaporins 1 and 9 Expression in the Genital Tract of Buffalo Bulls(Bubalus bubalis)

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Abstract

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The presence of Aquaporins 1 (AQP1) and 9 (AQP9), integral membrane water channels that facilitate rapid passive movement of water and solutes, was immunohistochemically detected in the excurrent ducts collected from sexually mature buffalo bulls of proven fertility during the mating (late autumn–winter) and non-mating (late spring to the beginning of autumn) seasons. Furthermore, the research was performed also on the epididymal cauda of a senile buffalo bull with inactive testis. Aquaporins 1 and 9 were immunolocalized at distinct levels. In the efferent ducts, AQP1 immunoreactivity was strongly evidenced at the apical surface of the non-ciliated cells and weakly along the basal membrane of the epithelial cells. The latter reactivity disappeared during the non-mating season. No AQP1 immunoreactivity was detected in the epithelium of epididymis and vas deferens, whereas AQP1 was expressed in the smooth muscle layer of the vas deferens. Aquaporin 1 was present in the blood vessels and in small nerve bundles all along the genital tract. The supranuclear zone of the epididymal principal cells was AQP9 immunoreactive, limited to the corpus and cauda regions, and vas deferens. The samples collected in the two reproductive seasons showed a weaker AQP9 immunoreactivity during the non-mating season. A typical AQP9 immunoreactivity was noticed in the old buffalo examined. The tested AQP molecules showed a different expression pattern in comparison with laboratory mammals, primates, equine, dog and cat. In addition, seasonal differences were noticed which are possibly useful in regard to the comprehension of the morphophysiology of reproduction in the bubaline species, which are still a matter of debate.

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