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Schick, Barbara; Maierl, Johann and Kenngott, Rebecca Anna-Maria (26. July 2018): Histochemical and ultrastructural investigation of the epididymal duct of the domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus). 32nd Congress of the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists, Hannover, Germany, 25. - 28. Juli 2018. European Association of Veterinary Anatomists (ed.) , Anatomia, Histolgia, Embryologia. Vol. 47, No. S1 Wiley.

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Introduction: The epididymis has a diversity of functions including concentration, maturation and storage of sperms. We investigated the histology and ultrastructural organization of the epididymis of the rabbit by means of light and electron microscopic methods. The morphology and ultrastructural composition were examined to collect more information about the different cell types, their arrangement and potentially interaction within the epithelium. Materials and Methods: Epididymides from three rabbits (aged between 2 and 5 months) were used. They were removed during clinically indicated orchidectomy. One epididymis from each animal was dissected and fixed in Bouin′s solution. After embedding according to routine protocols we prepared serial sections (5 μm) for overview-and immunohistochemical stainings (Claudin-1, Claudin-3). The other epididymis from each animal was dissected and fixed in Karnovsky′s solution for electron-microscopic investigation. Ultrathin sections (60 nm) were prepared. Results: Claudin-1 was localized along the entire length of the lateral plasma membranes between adjacent principal cells as well as at the interface between principal and basal cells. Claudin-3 was localized apically at the epithelial border in all regions. The ultrastructural investigation confirms the subdivision of the epididymal duct into initial, middle and terminal segment and a further subdivision of the initial and the terminal segment into proximal and distal areas. The lining epithelium consists primarily of principal and basal cells with a segment-specific content and organization of cell organelles. Conclusion: Claudins, integral membrane proteins, are the most important elements of tight junctions. The positive staining at more distal sites of adjacent principal cells and in between principal and basal cells demonstrate that they attach epithelial cells to each other. The clearly positive elongated structures between the epithelial cells may be a sign that there are also long and slender cytoplasmic projections towards the lumen, as described for other species, in the epididymis of the rabbit.

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