An official journal of the Society for Biology of Reproduction and the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn
Elsevier

June 2014 (No. 2)

Lactoferrin expression and secretion in the stallion epididymis

Christopher A. Pearl a,b,* , Janet F. Roser b

a Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, 1903 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA

b Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA 1. Introduction As sperm

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Abstract

Lactoferrin is one of the most abundant proteins secreted by the stallion epididymis, but its cellular localization and regulation remain unknown. This study was designed to address the following objectives: (1) identify the epididymal cell types producing lactoferrin in pre-pubertal, peri-pubertal and post-pubertal animals; (2) demonstrate that lactoferrin binds to stallion sperm; and (3) determine if testosterone and estradiol regulate lactoferrin secretion in vitro. Using an immunohistochemical method, lactoferrin was localized in the cytoplasm of principal cells in the corpus and cauda of peri- and post-pubertal animals. The epididymis of pre-pubertal animals did not express lactoferrin. Immunolabeling of lactoferrin was also observed on the mid-piece and tail of the sperm. The role of estradiol and testosterone in regulating secretion of lactoferrin in the post-pubertal epididymis was investigated using tissue culture methods. Lactoferrin concentration in the culture media was determined by validated enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Testosterone did not increase the concentration of lactoferrin in the media in any epididymal region. In contrast, estradiol-17b significantly increased the concentration of lactoferrin in the media containing tissue from the cauda. In conclusion, the expression of lactoferrin was found in the cytoplasm of principal cells in the corpus and cauda of the epididymis in peri- and post-pubertal stallions but not pre- pubertal stallions. Furthermore, lactoferrin binds to sperm, suggesting a biological role for protection or regulation of sperm in the corpus and cauda. In addition, estrogen appears to regulate lactoferrin secretion in the cauda of the epididymis in post-pubertal stallions.

Reproductive Biology 2014 14 2: 148-154.

* Corresponding author at: Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, 1903 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA. E-mail address: christopher.pearl@wmich.edu