, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 225–244 | Cite as

Cytochemical correlates of structural sexual dimorphism in glandular tissues of the mouse

I. Studies of the renal glomerular capsule
  • Jacob S. Hanker
  • John W. Preece
  • Edith K. MacRae


The parietal epithelium of Bowman's capsule has been analyzed by enzyme cytochemistry in kidneys of mice (C57BL/6J) from birth to 50 days of age. There is a greater tendency for cells in the central portions of the capsular crescent to be cuboidal in postpubertal males than in pre-pubertal mice of either sex or in post-pubertal females where they are generally squamous; moreover, these heightened capsular cells have a distinct microvillous border. Cytochemical procedures were selected which might confirm the morphological suggestion that the cuboidal parietal epithelium possesses an absorptive capacity.

The oxidoreductase activity of the mitochondria of the cuboidal cells of this layer is comparable to that of the columnar cells of the proximal convoluted tubule. The cytochrome oxidase activity of the mitochondria in both of these segments of the nephron is intense. This is in sharp contrast to the unreactive mitochondria in the squamous cells of the parietal epithelium. Furthermore, a striking heterogeneity in the degree of cytochrome oxidase activity is evident in the mitochondria of the cuboidal parietal cells as well as in the cells of the proximal tubules. In the former cells, active mitochondria were generally found near microvilli at the apical ends and in the areas of the basal infoldings whereas those in a central position were more frequently unreactive.

The brush border of the cuboidal capsular epithelium had prominent alkaline phosphatase and aminopeptidase activities as has previously been observed in other brush borders.

Functional capacity corresponding to the morphological and cytochemical specialization of the cuboidal capsular cells was demonstrated by their uptake of horseradish peroxidase. This exogenous protein tracer could be seen in apical vacuoles and phagosomes in the cuboidal parital epithelium.

The cytochemical resemblance of the cells of this epithelium to those of the proximal convoluted tubules suggests a similar involvement in resorption and perhaps in active transport. A possible relationship of this differentiation of the capsular epithelium to the proteinuria normal for adult male mice is discussed.


Brush Border Absorptive Capacity Proximal Convoluted Tubule Aminopeptidase Activity Adult Male Mouse 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob S. Hanker
    • 1
  • John W. Preece
    • 1
  • Edith K. MacRae
    • 1
  1. 1.Dental Research Center, School of DentistryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillUSA

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