Differentiation of Leydig Cells in the Mongolian Gerbil
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Information on postnatal Leydig cell (LC) differentiation in the Mongolian gerbil has been unavailable. Therefore, current investigation was designed to examine LC lineage differentiation in this rodent, from birth to adulthood. Gerbil testes at I day, 1-7 weeks (w), 2 and 3 months of age were conventionally processed by light and transmission electron microscopy. Immunocytochemistry for specific markers of steroidogenic enzymes, namely 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3 beta-HSD) and 11 beta-hydroxysteroid steroid dehydrogenase 1 (11 beta-HSD1) and also for androgen receptor (AR) was performed. The establishment of adult Leydig cell populations (ALC) during testis maturation in the gerbil follows the pattern previously described in other mammalian species, with the four progressive stages of differentiation. The LC progenitors were identified at second w by 3 beta-HSD expression; the first newly formed ALC were recognized at fourth w whereas immature ALC appeared at fifth w. The latter were recognized by abundance of cytoplasmic lipid, in addition to expression of 11 beta-HSD1 and intense nuclear AR immunoreaction. Mature ALC in gerbil exhibited irregular eccentric nuclei and a cytoplasmic canaliculus in the perinuclear area. Only one third of mature ALC in adult gerbils showed a high expression of 11 beta-HSD1 and AR expression was highly variable among them. In conclusion, the process of differentiation of ALC population in gerbil follows the pattern previously established for other rodents. However, the resulting mature ALC are strikingly different due their singular asymmetric morphology and presence of a cytoplasmic canaliculus and as well as their functional heterogeneity. Microsc. Res. Tech. 73:119-127, 2010. (C) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.