Sertoli cells play a key role in the establishment of an adequate luminal environment in the seminiferous tubules of the male reproductive tract. Secretion of the seminiferous tubular fluid (STF) is vital for the normal occurrence of spermatogenesis and for providing a means of transport to the developing spermatozoa. However, several studies on this subject have not completely clarified the origin and composition of this fluid. Electrolyte and water are central components of STF. Sertoli cells secrete an iso-osmotic fluid with a higher content of K+ than the blood and express various membrane and water transporters (Na+/K+-ATPase; Ca2+-ATPase; V-type ATPase; Cl− channels; CFTR Cl− channels; K+ channels; L-, T- and N-type Ca2+ channels; Na+/H+ exchangers; Na+-driven HCO3 −/Cl− exchangers (NDCBEs); Na+/HCO3 − cotransporters (NBCes); Na+–K+–2Cl− cotransporter; Na+/Ca2+ exchanger; and aquaporins 0 and 8) involved in cellular and secretory functions. Studies with knockout mice for some of these transporters showed tubular fluid accumulation and associated infertility, revealing the relevance of these processes for the normal occurrence of spermatogenesis. Nevertheless, the role of the several membrane transporters in the establishment of STF electrolyte composition needs to be further elucidated. This review summarizes the available data on the ionic composition of STF and on the Sertoli cell membrane mechanisms responsible for ion and water movement. Deepening the knowledge on the mechanisms involved in the secretion, composition and regulation of SFT is essential and will be a major step in understanding the infertility associated with some pathological conditions.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 10, 2010
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