Expression of class II MHC molecules in the rat pineal gland during development and effects of treatment with carbon tetrachloride
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Cells expressing major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II (Ia) antigen have been examined during the development of rat pineals and in the pineal gland of adult rats treated with carbon tetrachloride. Cells positive for MHC class II are first detected in the pineal gland of the 7-day-old rat. These positive cells increase in number gradually during development, MHC class II immunoreactivity reaching adult levels at 4 weeks after birth. The MHC class II antigen is intensely labeled on the cell surface, and labeled cells are distributed throughout the organ, several positive cells being gathered into groups. The positive cells are small (7–12 μm in diameter), irregular in shape, and frequently exhibit one or more processes. At the electron-microscopic level, the cytoplasm of positive cells contains few organelles, variously sized empty vacuoles, and a few electron-dense lysosome-like structures. Pinealocytes with synaptic ribbons have been found adjacent to immunoreactive cells. Double-immunoperoxidase staining for MRC OX6, MRC OX42, and ED1 results in OX6−/ED1+/OX42+, OX6−/ED1−/OX42+, and OX6+/ED1−/OX42−cells. These findings suggest that OX6-positive cells in the pineal can be considered as peripheral dendritic cells. The number of cells expressing MHC class II (Ia) antigen significantly increases in the pineal gland of rats after treatment with carbon tetrachloride (P<0.005). Our results indicate that at least some of the OX6-positive cells migrate into the gland from the circulation under these conditions.
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