The maintenance of pH homeostasis in the male reproductive tract is kept through the involvement of several mechanisms, among which is included the transmembranous movement of H ions. Na -H exchangers (SLC9, solute carrier 9 family members) are among the membrane transporters known to participate in intracellular and extracellular pH regulation but also have important roles in salt and water absorption across epithelia and in the regulation of cell volume. The presence of several Na -H exchangers has been reported in the male reproductive tract. Their involvement in the processes that ensure the correct pursuance of the spermatogenetic event and spermatozoa maturation has been suggested. Indeed, the formation of mature spermatozoa is highly dependent on the maintenance of adequate ductal luminal milieu pH and ionic balance. Perturbations in these processes result in reduced male reproductive potential and consequently male subfertility and/or infertility. Thus, it is imperative to understand H transport dynamics in order to identify and counteract possible alterations associated with reduced male fertility caused by pathological conditions. Herein, we will discuss the expression pattern and physiological roles of SLC9 family members in the cells of the male reproductive tract as well as the molecular basis of H transport and its involvement in male reproductive potential.
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Vol. 91 • No. 1