The postnatal maturation of the epithelium and tubule wall of efferent tubules in the rat was investigated by light and transmission electron microscopy, from birth to 50 days of age, when sperms were released from the seminiferous tubules and appeared in the genital duct.
At the end of the first week of life, an endocytotic apparatus is differentiated in the epithelial cells. During the third week of life, efferent tubules developed specializations for the transport of sperms and fluids, namely the appearance of ciliated elements interspersed among the principal cells of the epithelium, and differentiation of myoid elements in the tubule wall.
The appearance of specializations related to endocytosis and fluid transport across the epithelium preceded the canalization of the seminiferous cords which, in fact, is reported to appear at the end of the second week of life in the rat, along with the initial secretion of testicular fluid. This suggested that the maturation of efferent tubules is not triggered by the passage of testicular fluid, as surmised for the postnatal differentiation of caput epididymis.
The postnatal maturation of efferent tubules was almost complete 35 days after birth. The appearance of sperms in the genital duct of 50-day-old animals was not associated with any remarkable structural change.