1987 Volume 50 Issue 5 Pages 545-556
Immunocytochemical localization of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) and its relation to the ultrastructure of steroidogenic cells were examined in mature and immature rat ovaries.
In mature (8-10 weeks old) rat ovaries, the theca interna cells of secondary as well as Graafian follicles, and the interstitial gland cells were all strongly stained with anti-17β-HSD antibody. However, granulosa cells, corpus luteum cells, oocytes and peritoneal epithelial cells were negative against this staining. In the ovaries of 1-week-old rats, all these cells were negative to immunostaining for 17β-HSD. In the ovaries of 2-week-old rats, the theca interna cells of secondary follicles and the interstitial gland cells showed a positive reaction for the 17β-HSD activity.
Electron microscopic examination demonstrated the presence of characteristic structures for steroid secretory cells such as many lipid droplets, well developed smooth endoplasmic reticulum, and oval mitochondria with tubular cristae in the theca interna cell of secondary as well as Graafian follicles and in the interstitial gland cell of mature rat ovaries. In the ovaries of 1-week-old rats, all the theca cells of the primary and secondary follicles were fibroblast-like in their shape and fine structure, and typical interstitial cells were not recognized. In the 2-week-old rats, some of the theca interna cells and interstitial cells were well differentiated in ultrastructure, showing characteristic features for steroid secretory cells.
These findings indicate that by 2 weeks after birth, theca interna cells and interstitial gland cells acquire the ability for testosterone production as seen in mature rat ovaries.