Morphology and function of rooster efferent ductule epithelial cells in culture

S. J. Janssen, D. Bunick, C. Finnigan-Bunick, Y. C. Chen, R. Hess, J. M. Bahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regulation of the excurrent ducts of the testis is not well understood, particularly in avian species. To investigate the role of steroid hormones in the male reproductive tract, we developed a primary cell culture of epithelia isolated from rooster ductuli efferentes (efferent ductules). Efferent ductules of the avian testis comprise 77% of the epididymal region and form a mass of tubules containing a heavily folded epithelium enmeshed in connective tissue. The epididymal region was separated by microdissection and small epithelial plaques isolated by serial digestion with collagenase, elastase and repeated pipetting. Isolated cell plaques were cultured in a bicameral chamber on Millicell-CM inserts coated with two layers of basement membrane matrix, consisting primarily of laminin and Types I and IV collagen. Active ciliary beat was observed before plating and this activity was maintained for 14 days in culture, Cell plaques attached within 24 h and outgrowths formed a confluent monolayer by 5-6 days. The epithelial nature of cultured cells was demonstrated by immunocytochemical staining for cytokeratin. Light and electron microscopy confirmed that morphology and polarity of the original epithelial cells were maintained in culture. Cultured efferent ductal epithelium was cuboidal in shape and maintained many of the cytoplasmic organelles typical of these cells in vivo. The uptake of cationic ferritin indicated the endocytotic activity of these cultured cells was maintained. Estrogen receptor mRNA expression was maintained in cultured cells. These data demonstrate avian efferent ductal epithelium can be isolated and grown in defined culture medium for the purpose of determining the role of hormones and other factors in regulating the function of the epididymal region in the bird.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-561
Number of pages8
JournalTissue and Cell
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998


  • Cell culture
  • Efferent ductule
  • Estrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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