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Immunohistochemical Detection of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor in Fetal and Adult Bovine Epididymis: Release by the Apocrine Secretion Mode?Eickhoff R.a · Jennemann G.a · Hoffbauer G.a · Schüring M.-P.b · Kaltner H.b · Sinowatz F.c · Gabius H.-J.b · Seitz J.a
aDepartment of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Philipps University Marburg, Marburg, bInstitute of Physiological Chemistry, and cInstitute of Veterinary Anatomy, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Munich, Germany
Originally defined as a lymphokine inhibiting the random migration of macrophages, the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is an important mediator of the host response to infection. Beyond its function as a classical cytokine, MIF is currently portrayed as a multifunctional protein with growth-regulating properties present in organ systems beyond immune cells. In previous studies, we detected substantial amounts of MIF in the rat epididymis and epididymal spermatozoa, where it appears to play a role during post-testicular sperm maturation and the acquisition of fertilization ability. To explore its presence in other species not yet examined in this respect, we extended the range of studies to the bull. Using a polyclonal antibody raised against MIF purified from bovine eye lenses, we detected MIF in the epithelium of the adult bovine epididymis with the basal cells representing a prominently stained cell type. A distinct accumulation of MIF at the apical cell pole of the epithelial cells and in membranous vesicles localized in the lumen of the epididymal duct was obvious. In the fetal bovine epididymis, we also detected MIF in the epithelium, whereas MIF accumulation was evident at the apical cell surface and in apical protrusions. By immunoelectron microscopy of the adult bovine epididymis, we localized MIF in apical protrusions of the epithelial cells and in luminal membrane-bound vesicles that were found in close proximity to sperm cells. Although the precise origin of the MIF-containing vesicles remains to be delineated, our morphological observations support the hypothesis that they become detached from the apical surface of the epididymal epithelial cells. Additionally, an association of MIF with the outer dense fibers of luminal spermatozoa was demonstrated. Data obtained in this study suggest MIF release by an apocrine secretion mode in the bovine epididymis. Furthermore, MIF localized in the basal cells of the epithelium and in the connective tissue could be responsible for regulating the migration of macrophages in order to avoid contact of immune cells with spermatozoa that carry a wide range of potent antigens.
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