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Cell Biol Int. 2005 Sep;29(9):809-16.

Modulation of smooth muscle cell function: morphological evidence for a contractile to synthetic transition in the rat ventral prostate after castration.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, UNICAMP, Campinas, SP, Brazil.


In this study, we evaluated the involvement of rat ventral prostate smooth muscle cells (SMC) in secretory activity and whether this function is modulated after castration. Cell morphology was examined at both light and electron microscopy levels and the organelles involved in secretory function were labeled by the zinc-iodide-osmium (ZIO) method at the ultrastructural level and their volume density was determined by stereology. Castration resulted in marked changes of the SMC, which adopted a spinous aspect and abandoned the layered arrangement observed in the prostates of non-castrated rats. The volume density of ZIO reactive organelles increased progressively after castration, reaching significantly higher levels 21 days after castration. Since previous studies have demonstrated that SMC express SMC markers (even 21 days after castration) and are able to respond to adrenergic stimulation, we concluded that differentiated SMC are able to shift from a predominantly contractile to a more synthetic phenotype without changing their differentiation status.

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