The pH and bicarbonate concentrations of luminal fluids in the efferent ducts of the rat were estimated from pH measurements of samples in vitro under conditions of controlled temperature and carbon dioxide tension. The pH of scrotal blood was estimated to be more acidic than systemic blood (mean pH=7.44) at either of the putative scrotal carbon dioxide tensions (5% and 7%, pH, respectively,=7.42 and 7.28). For PCO2 tensions of 5% and 7%, respectively, the data indicated that the pH in the efferent ducts was significantly higher (distal initial zone pH=7.55 or 7.41; coni vasculosi pH=7.66 or 7.51; p < 0.01) than in fluid entering (rete testis fluid, pH=7.34 or 7.20) or leaving the ducts (zone 1a of the epididymal duct 7.26 or 7.11). Bicarbonate concentrations were also significantly higher (p < 0.01) in the efferent ducts (35.4 ± 4.7 mM, distal initial zone; 45.2 ± 7.6 mM, coni vasculosi) than in fluids entering (22.9 ± 3.6 mM) or leaving (20.4 ± 4.9 mM) the ducts. Estimates of the reabsorption of bicarbonate and fluid indicated that 96% of the testicular output of bicarbonate was reabsorbed in the efferent ducts, but there was also some secretion of bicarbonate into the ducts. It is concluded that luminal pH and bicarbonate levels in the efferent ducts of the rat are high relative to those found in the epididymis where low pH and bicarbonate contributes to sperm quiescence during storage. Nevertheless, the high rate of bicarbonate reabsorption in the efferent ducts is a major contributor to the establishment of the low pH and bicarbonate milieu of the epididymis.
International Journal of Andrology Vol. 23, Issue 1, p. 46-50