Seasonal changes in the fine structure of the accessory sex gland in the mole (Talpa europaea)

Abstract

The mole has a single pair of accessory sex organs with features of both the prostate and the seminal vesicle, for which the term prostate gland is not appropriate. Seasonal changes occurring in this gland were related to four periods: a) the quiescence period, b) the maturation period, c) the active period and d) the involution period. During the quiescence period the cuboidal epithelial cells display a quasi-embryonic fine structure and are sparse in cytoplasmic organelles, but rich in glycogen and lipopigment. With the onset of sexual activity glycogen and lipopigment disappear and the rough endoplasmic reticulum as well as the Golgi apparatus begin to proliferate. The fully active gland is lined by a low epithelium with parallel stacks of rough endoplasmic reticulum, a large Golgi apparatus and several lysosomes and secretory granules. In the involution period the gland collapses and the epithelial cells are eliminated by hetero-and autophagic processes. During this period a great number of presumably endocrine cells were observed. The results were compared with findings in experimental studies and those on postnatal development of accessory sex glands in laboratory animals.

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