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J Submicrosc Cytol Pathol. 1992 Apr;24(2):273-9.

Copper deficiency and pigmentation in the rat: morphofunctional aspects.

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Dipartimento di Biologia e Fisiologia Cellulare, Facoltà di Scienze, Università degli Studi, Coppito, L'Aquila, Italia.


The effects of a low copper diet on pigmentation, pigment cell and melanosome morphology have been investigated in ACI/T male rats. After a three months treatment the fur and skin pigmentation is reduced as compared to the controls. The melanocytes of the treated rats show the phenotype of active pigment cells while some melanosomes are abnormally differentiated: both lamellar and granular organelles are present in the same pigment cell and mosaic age melanosomes appear. The abnormal melanosome structure expressed by the treated-rat melanocytes is also evident in vitro. After incubation with deoxycholate the melanosomes from the low-copper diet treated rats are much more altered than those from the control rats. The phenotype of the rats starved for copper seems to mimic as regards pigmentation the phenotype of the mouse Mo (mottled) mutation that is an experimental model of the Menkes' kinky hair syndrome. In conclusion copper deficiency seems to affect both the morphology and function of the pigment cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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