Journal of Morphological Sciences
Journal of Morphological Sciences
Original Article


Eduardo Albert Frankfurt; Teng Chang Li; Michael Jenwei Chen; Marcelo A. Ferreira; Joyce T. Kawakami; Karina Silva Funabashi; Maria Fernanda Malvezzi; Antonio Sesso

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Orchiectomy causes marked, rapid involution of the prostatic secretory epithelium. Concurrently, macrophages, which in normal glands are small and rarely occur at the base of the secretory epithelium, increase in size and number. Apoptotic cells are engulfed by companion epithelial cells and also by macrophages. In secretory cells and macrophages, dense bodies progressively increase in number and store membranes derived from dead cells of the secretory epithelium. In this work, we examined the contributions of the various routes of disposal of demised secretory epithelial cells of the rat prostate, induced to enter in apoptosis by retrieval of androgen. Specifically, we sought to determine how much membrane surface area derived from apoptotic cells of the secretory epithelium could be stored in dense bodies, and how these data compared with the disposal of dead cells via the glandular lumen. Glands from unoperated controls (day 0) and from rats examined 12 h and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 days after orchiectomy were studied morphometrically. The total membrane surface area of rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria and vesicles declined from 6.75 x 103 μm2 in non-castrated rats to 1.12 x 103 μm2 nine days after castration. Similarly, the total surface area of the secretory epithelium decreased from 10.6 x 1011 μm2 in non-castrated rats to 0.204 x 1011 μm2 nine days after castration. Geometrical models revealed that 1 μm3 of dense body accommodated at least 142 μm2 of myelin-like membrane surface area. Three to four days after castration, the total volume of intramacrophage dense bodies peaked (~5 x 106 μm3) and represented 1-2% of the volume of intraepithelial dense bodies (~4 x 108 μm3). The minimum membrane surface area that could be stored in dense bodies of the secretory epithelium on post-castration days 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9 was 1.4%, 9%, 16%, 23%, 28% and 44%, respectively, of the total membrane surface area of the secretory epithelium. The total number of cells counted in the glandular lumina on days 4 and 5 represented 2.6% and 1.2% of the number of cells lost in the glands between post-castration days 3 and 4 and days 4 and 5, respectively. As stated, a relevant source of cell disposal is represented by the autophagic process which occurs in the secretory epithelial cells and results in the formation of dense bodies. Digestion of remnants of apoptotic secretory epithelial cells in the cytoplasm of macrophages and removal of dead cells via the intraluminal route accounted for some 1-3 to 3-4 % , respectively, of the total cell death.


Apoptosis, castration, dense bodies, electron microscopy, macrophages, morphometry, prostate
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J. Morphol. Sci.

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