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J Urol. 1987 Jun;137(6):1250-4.

Endocrine-paracrine (APUD) cells of the human female urethra and paraurethral ducts.


The distribution, immunostaining profile and ultrastructural morphology of human female urethral and paraurethral endocrine-paracrine (APUD) cells was studied. Five urethras obtained from radical cystectomy specimens were stained with antisera to serotonin, neuron-specific enolase, chromogranin, bombesin, calcitonin, somatostatin, prostatic acid phosphatase, prostatic specific antigen and with the Churukian-Schenk argyrophil method. Numerous endocrine-paracrine cells were observed along the entire length of resected urethra, with these cells most numerous in the paraurethral ducts. The endocrine-paracrine cells were positive for serotonin, neuron-specific enolase, chromogranin and the argyrophil reaction. Scattered bombesin and very rare calcitonin immunoreactive cells were noted. The endocrine-paracrine cells were of the open (luminal extensions) and closed cell types and often had multiple long dendritic processes suggesting a primarily paracrine function. By electron microscopy the secretory granule morphology was highly variable. Autonomic innervation of endocrine-paracrine cells was noted. The relationship of female urethral and paraurethral endocrine-paracrine cells to those of the male prostate and urethra is discussed with speculation as to the functional role these cells may play.

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