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The epididymal influence on sperm maturation

  • Trevor G Cooper (a1)


Consideration of the function of the epididymis has undergone profound changes over the last century during which it has moved from a largely neglected male reproductive organ to one that is an increasingly exploited source of sperm for assisted reproduction strategies. From histological studies in the lizard1 it was considered that, ‘…the cells lining the epididymal canal produce a material necessary for the spermatozoa during their passage through the organ …’ whereas a fertility study with guinea-pigs stated boldly that, ‘… changes undergone [by spermatozoa in the epididymis] are not conditioned by some specific action of epididymal secretion …’. The former view found favour in a review of the literature which concluded that, ‘… there are specific epididymal secretions necessary for sperm maturation and survival …’, although the nature of the secretions were not then known. However, this concept, currently held by most of those studying the epididymis of animals, was again contradicted on the basis of clinical work: ‘… it certainly is possible for sperm that have never passed through any length of the epididymis at all to mature on their own …’.


Corresponding author

Institute of Reproductive Medicine at the University, Steinfurter Strasse 107, D-48149 Münster, Germany.


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The epididymal influence on sperm maturation

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