The glycosaminoglycans of the gubernaculum during testicular descent in the fetus
Tissues were obtained from 387 male pig fetuses ranging from 60 to 120 days of gestation. The relative wet mass and water content of the gubernaculum increased and decreased after the period of testicular descent. The extracellular glycosaminoglycans (GAG) were assayed to determine whether these polyanionic macromolecules are responsible for the increased water content of the gubernaculum. The total GAG/wet tissue mass in the gubernaculum decreased during and increased after descent, while the total GAG/dry mass decreased during and after descent, indicating an accumulation of water during descent, with a loss of water and an increase in less hydrated tissue components after descent. The major GAG fraction in the gubernaculum was dermatan sulfate, but the percentage hyaluronate in the gubernaculum was two times higher than in striated muscle or umbilical cord, indicating that this GAG fraction may be responsible for the increased water content of the gubernaculum, which probably serves to dilate the inguinal canal and scrotum, thus facilitating descent.