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Differentiation. 1989 Jun;40(3):198-206.

Basement membrane and epithelial features of fetal-type Leydig cells in rat and human testis.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Turku, Finland.


The basement membranes of developing Leydig cells in fetal and newborn testis of rat were studied by ultrastructural and immunocytochemical methods. Fetal-type Leydig cells in prenatal rats were organized in irregularly outlined groups in the interstitium and were extensively surrounded by ultrastructurally identifiable basement membranes and immunocytochemically localized laminin and collagen type IV. Prenatal Leydig cell precursors had small patches of laminin and collagen type IV on their surfaces, which indicated that changes in extracellular matrix took place during their differentiation to mature fetal-type Leydig cells. Additionally, ultrastructural evidence was obtained for a basement membrane surrounding the fetal human Leydig cells similar to that in fetal rats. Soon after birth the rat fetal-type cells gathered into distinct clusters surrounded by delicate envelope cells and a discontinuous basement membrane. Basement-membrane structures, laminin, and collagen type IV were observed between the clustered cells as well. The basement membranes covering large cell surface areas of the fetal-type Leydig cells in fetal and newborn rats differed from those of the adult-type cells, which, according to our earlier study, are covered only by small patches of basement membrane. The difference between the basement membranes of the fetal- and adult-type rat Leydig cells further supports the concept of two different Leydig cell populations. The earlier findings of the epithelial nature of the Leydig cells agree with the observation of basement membranes in the Leydig cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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