Using a digital videomicroscopic analysis system in the bovine, we showed that the mechanisms of transport caused by ciliary beating are distinctly different in ampulla and isthmus of the oviduct. The average particle transport speed (PTS) in the oviduct (mean, 133 μm/sec) does not differ in the cycle (metestrus) and during pregnancy after implantation, but it is locally modulated at the site of the embryo. Using videomicroscopy, we were able to document that after entering the ampulla, the cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) is not transported by ciliary beating down the oviduct, but firmly attaches to the ampullar epithelium. This attachment is mediated by the cumulus cells. However, when a COC is degenerated, it is floating in the oviductal lumen. As soon as a vital COC is in the ampulla, the sperm bound in the sperm reservoir of the ampullar isthmic junction leave the reservoir and hurry to the oocyte. When a sperm has penetrated the zona pellucida, the COC detaches and continues its migration. Quantitative measurements showed that the early embryo is able to locally downregulate PTS during its migration down the oviduct. It locally changes the pattern of vascularization and induces the formation of secretory cells. Our studies imply that the oviductal epithelium is able to select vital oocytes. The early embryo is able to induce the formation of secretory cells, modify vascularization, and downregulate speed of transport, thus creating the prerequisite for the first embryo-maternal communication in the oviduct.
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Vol. 81 • No. 2