Morphogenesis of the bovine rete testis: the intratesticular rete and its connection to the seminiferous tubules
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- Wrobel, KH. Anat Embryol (2000) 202: 475. doi:10.1007/s004290000133
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The development of the intragonadal rete testis and the establishment of the connection between seminiferous and straight testicular tubules was studied using ultrastructural and histochemical methods in 60 bovine embryos and fetuses ranging from day 39 through day 225 post conceptionem. The methodology included a modified acetylcholinesterase (AChE) reaction as a selective marker for pre-Sertoli cells and a modified microsomal aminopeptidase (MAP) reaction as a selective marker for the epithelia of rete testis and straight testicular tubules. Between 40 and 45 days, the rete testis is predominantly an extratesticular rete situated in the cranial peduncle of the gonadal fold and in broad contact with the pro/mesonephric giant corpuscle. During this period, the intragonadal rete enters the gonad proper from its craniodorsal pole and extends into the cranial fourth of the testis. Between 60 and 110 days the rete testis attains its definitive position, extending into the central longitudinal axis as far as to the caudal fourth of the testis. For the caudal expansion of the rete testis the preceding proliferation of the mediastinal stroma is an important prerequisite. In the 40 to 45-day-old embryo the area of the testicular cords may be divided into two zones. A narrow outer zone contains plate-like cords with a thick diameter, and a larger central zone is filled with a network of thinner cords. Only the thick outer cords transform into the permanent seminiferous tubules, whereas the thinner cords in the central zone are transitory structures that disappear between 45 and 110 days. One important function of these transitory cords is to establish a continuous system of basal laminae that allows a direct connection between the central ends of the growing seminiferous tubules and the peripheral extensions of the rete testis (future straight testicular tubules). The first true straight testicular tubules become visible between 85 and 110 days. Due to a strong proliferation of the tubulus rectus-cells the straight testicular tubules elongate continuously, and the border between the rete system and the seminiferous tubules is slowly shifted towards the testicular periphery. This shift is not restricted to the prenatal period, but proceeds until after birth. At the cytological level, the formation and elongation of the straight testicular tubules is effected by proliferating cells that advance along the continuous basal lamina into the area of the seminiferous tubules. The pre-Sertoli and germ cells in this zone of invasion are separated from each other and overgrown by the tubulus rectus-cells. Exposed to the special milieu of the straight testicular tubules, pre-Sertoli and germ cells apparently cannot survive and finally disappear.