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Title: Serotonin Localization in the Turkey Vaginal but not Sperm Storage Tubule Epithelia

item Bakst, Murray
item Akuffo, Valorie

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/30/2007
Publication Date: 2/1/2008
Citation: Bakst, M.R., Akuffo, V. 2008. Serotonin localization in the turkey vaginal but not sperm storage tubule epithelia. Poultry Science. 87(2):356-61.

Interpretive Summary: In poultry, the fate of sperm in the oviduct after mating or artificial insemination is the subject of considerable speculation. With the knowledge of how and which sperm are transported to the oviductal sperm storage site, we will be able to develop improved methods of semen storage that would be based on the biology of the hen. In this study, we made the newl discovery that a neurotransmitter, serotonin, is either stored or synthesized in the vaginal surface lining. While we can only speculate now on serotonins impact on oviductal sperm selection and transport, we do know that it can stimulate the motility of both sperm and epithelial cell cilia. In addition, serotonin has been shown to stimulate the motility of another tubular organ, the gastro-intestinal tract. This is the first evidence of a possible local control mechanism responding to the presence of sperm in the turkey vagina. Our work in this area will continue with the aim of discovering addition information that will be useful in the development of improved semen storage technology applicable to the poultry industry.

Technical Abstract: Our knowledge regarding the mechanism of sperm selection and transport in the hen’s vagina is meager. Preliminary observations indicate the presence of non-neuron endocrine cells in the epithelia lining the lumina of the turkey hen vagina and uterovaginal junction. While no cells in the vagina or UVJ surface epithelia exhibited argentaffin staining, typical of cells containing neurosecretory granules, cells restricted to the vaginal and uterovaginal junction but not the sperm-storage tubule epithelia were immuno-reactive positive to serotonin. It is suggested that serotonin released into the vaginal lumen and the submucosa may augment cilia and sperm tail beat frequencies a and facilitate smooth muscle contraction, respectively. This is the first evidence of a possible local control mechanism responding to the presence of sperm in the turkey vagina.