Reproductive cycle of the Neotropical Crotalus durissus terrificus: II. Establishment and maintenance of the uterine muscular twisting, a strategy for long-term sperm storage
ABSTRACT Crotaline snakes store sperm by means of a uterine musculature twisting (UMT). We investigated the influence of plasma levels of estradiol and progesterone and vasotocinase cystine aminopeptidase (CAP) activity on UMT formation and maintenance, and the in vitro uterine reactivity for AVT in Crotalus durissus terrificus in primary or secondary vitellogenesis with or without UMT. Frequency of females in secondary vitellogenesis with UMT is significantly higher than in primary one. Estradiol levels did not vary in all conditions studied, however, significantly low levels of progesterone were found in snakes in secondary vitellogenesis with UMT compared to those without it. UMT is always observed when high levels of estradiol and low levels of progesterone are detected. CAP activity did not change in the presence of UMT. AVT produced concentration–response contractions of the isolated uterus of snakes in all stages analysed and the pD2 value and maximum contractile response were significantly higher in primary vitellogenesis without UMT than in other reproductive conditions, indicating that uterus of those snakes presents a higher contractile capacity which may favour UMT establishment. In conclusion, we show a relationship of UMT and estradiol/progesterone balance and a possible participation of AVT in UMT formation and maintenance in the Neotropical rattlesnake.