Scanning Microscopy


This study describes the morphology of the accessory sex glands of the adult male rat as observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The purpose was to obtain a systematic and comparative SEM description of these glands and to evaluate different preparation techniques. A common morphological feature is polyhedral delineation of the cells, which exhibited a variable convexity of their apical surface. The cell apices were more or less studded with microvilli. Nevertheless, it was possible to distinguish the glands by their surface morphology. In the ventral prostate, there was a considerable heterogeneity in cell surface appearance. The lateral lobe bad a characteristic brush border, and in the dorsal lobe, surface blebbing and intracellular cisternae were observed. The cells of the seminal vesicle were covered by long microvilli, while particularly distinct, elevated cell borders and intracellular cisternae were typical for the coagulating gland. The secretory mechanism was merocrine in the ventral and lateral prostate and the seminal vesicle, and was mainly apocrine in the dorsal prostate. Surprisingly, only merocrine secretion was obvious in the coagulating gland. The most controversial observation, which needs further investigation, was the discovery of large orifices in the apical surface of individual seminal vesicle cells. These orifices may be indicative of an additional apocrine secretion in this gland. In studying this organ system, SEM provides in-formation that adds to previous transmission electron microscopical investigations.

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