Collagen type VI is a component of the extracellular matrix microfibril network of the prostatic stroma
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Stroma-epithelium relationships are of great relevance in prostatic morphogenesis and physiology, However, little knowledge exists about either stromal cells or extracellular matrix composition and arrangement in this system, Ultrastructural analysis revealed the existence of a microfibrillar system which occupies large areas of the rat prostatic stroma, In this work, we have applied immunocytochemistry and an ATP treatment for the ultrastructural identification of collagen type VI microfibrils, aiming at examining its participation in the prostatic microfibrillar network. Immunocytochemistry was also extended to a human case of prostatic nodular hyperplasia, Both methods succeeded in identifying collagen type VI in the rat ventral prostate, Collagen type VI is evenly distributed throughout the stroma but mainly associated with the basal lamina, collagen fibrils, and around the stromal cells, the use of ATP treatment allowed for the discrimination between collagen type VI and elastin-associated microfibrils, and demonstrated that these two classes of microfibrils establish an extended, mixed, and open network. The same aspects of association with the basal lamina, with stromal cells (particularly with smooth muscle cells), and with fibrillar components of the stroma were observed in the human tissue, We suggest that the collagen type VI and elastin-associated microfibril system may be involved in the control of some aspects of cellular behavior and may also play a structural role, maintaining the organ integrity after the deformations occurring under smooth muscle contraction.