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Régulation des fonctions de l’épithélium épididymaire des mammifères: état des lieux

Current state of regulation of mammalian epididymal epithelial functions

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Les gamètes mâles élaborés dans le testicule où se déroule la spermatogenèse poursuivent leur maturation hors de la gonade dans les conduits génitaux. L’épididyme est au centre de cette maturation post-testiculaire des spermatozoïdes responsable de l’acquisition de leur aptitude à se mouvoir ainsi qu’à reconnaître et à pénétrer un ovocyte, événements essentiels pour la fécondation.

Durant leur transit dans le canal épididymaire les gamètes évoluent dans un environnement luminal en perpétuel changement via le jeu complexe des activités de sécrétion et de réabsorption de l’épithélium épididymaire. Ces activités de sécrétion régulées dans l’espace et dans le temps ce qui fait de cet épithélium épididymaire un tissu d’une grande complexité soumis à un réseau élaboré de régulations croisées.

Outre les régulations classiques de type endocrine et paracrine, la région proximale de l’organe est soumise à des contrôles lumicrines par des facteurs d’origine testiculaire qui ajoutent à la complexité des réseaux de régulations mis en jeu. Le travail réalisé ci-dessous se veut être un état des lieux exhaustif des acteurs dont la littérature a montré qu’ils exerçaient une modulation de l’activité épididymaire.

Abstract

Male gametes formed in the testis, the site of spermatogenesis, continue their maturation outside of the gonad in the genital tract. The epididymis is at the centre of this process of post-testicular maturation of spermatozoa, responsible for acquisition of their mobility and their ability to recognize and penetrate an oocyte, essential events for fertilization.

During their transit in the epididymal ducts, gametes evolve in a perpetually changing luminal environment due to complex interactions of secretion and reabsorption activities of the epididymal epithelium. These numerous secretion and reabsorption activities are closely regulated in space and time, which makes this epididymal epithelium a very complex tissue subject to an elaborate network of cross-regulations.

Apart from classical endocrine and paracrine regulations, the proximal part of the epididymis is also subject to lumicrine regulation by testicular factors which increase the complexity of the regulation networks involved. The present study tries to present an exhaustive review of the factors demonstrated in the literature to exert a modulation of epididymal activity.

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Britan, A., Drevet, J.R. Régulation des fonctions de l’épithélium épididymaire des mammifères: état des lieux. Androl. 16, 197–228 (2006) doi:10.1007/BF03034859

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Mots clés

  • spermatozoïdes
  • maturation post-testiculaire
  • fertilité
  • contrôles endocrines
  • lumicrines
  • autocrines et paracrines

Key Words

  • spermatozoa
  • post-testicular maturation
  • fertility
  • endocrine
  • lumicrine
  • autocrine and paracrine regulation