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Acta Histochem. 2002;104(1):65-72.

Adrenomedullin in mammalian and human skin glands including the mammary gland.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Munich, Germany.


Adrenomedullin is a peptide that has been ascribed numerous functions. In the present paper, adrenomedullin has been localized immunhistochemically in a variety of skin glands of humans, elephants and impalas: apocrine scent glands, eccrine sweat glands, holocrine glands and mammary glands. In the apocrine glands expression of adrenomedullin varied with respect to staining intensity and intracellular localization. In general, glands which appeared to be actively secreting were more strongly stained than quiescent glands. However, within a single glandular tubule, individual cells differed considerably in the staining intensity of adrenomedullin. Adrenomedullin was present in both non-lactating and lactating mammary secretory epithelia, both ducts and alveoli reacted positively. In human mammary glands displaying apocrine metaplasia, the apical protrusions were strongly positive. Furthermore, positive immunostaining was found in endothelium and often in smooth muscle cells of small arteries and veins and in mast cells as well. Many of the adrenomedullin-positive epithelial cells were most strongly stained in the area of the Golgi apparatus, the cellular apex and particularly close to the basal side of the cell membrane. This pattern suggests packaging of adrenomedullin into secretory granules and secretion both at the apex of cells and at their basis. The first form of secretion suggests exocrine secretion, the latter form endocrine secretion of adrenomedullin. A possible hormonal function is in line with basally located electron dense small secretory granules, which have been found by electron microscopy in the glandular epithelia studied.

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