Three-dimensional analysis and in vivo imaging for sperm release and transport in the murine seminiferous tubule
Spermatozoa released from Sertoli cells must be transported to the epididymis. However, the contribution of the peristaltic motion in the seminiferous tubule to sperm release and transport remains unclear. We, therefore, investigated luminal flow and movements in the seminiferous tubules by three-dimensional analysis and in vivo imaging. Materials and Methods: Serial testicular sections were cut in 5-μm-thick and 50-μm-interval and stained by PAS-hematoxylin. After the three-dimensional
... uction of the seminiferous tubules, the localization of the flowing spermatozoa and stages observed in the sections were recorded in each reconstructed tubule. The luminal movements in the seminiferous tubule were observed by in vivo imaging using a fluorescent-reporter mouse and two-photon excitation microscopy system. Results: Flowing spermatozoa were mainly scattered in the lumina at stage VII/VIII, and clustered spermatozoa were also found in some regions. The clustered spermatozoa were observed at zero to two regions in each seminiferous tubule. Flowing spermatozoa were also found in the opposite direction to the rete testis. The flagellum direction of the spermatozoa attached to the seminiferous epithelium was reversed within a few seconds to a few tens of seconds when observed by in vivo imaging. The epithelium at the inner curve of the seminiferous tubule moved more actively and attached fewer spermatozoa compared to that at the outer curve. Discussion: This study revealed the presence of repeatedly reversed luminal flow in the seminiferous tubule. Such movements are suggested to help the sperm release from the Sertoli cells and the following aggregation of the released spermatozoa.