Human Bulbourethral and Urethral Glands

  • Francesca Testa-Riva
  • Alessandro Riva
  • Terenzio Congiu
  • Antonello De Lisa
  • Pietro M. Motta
Part of the Electron Microscopy in Biology and Medicine book series (EMBM, volume 11)


Studies on the fine structure of the bulbourethral glands have been restricted largely to animals [12,14,15,20,29,30,59,60]. A few works were carried out on human bulbourethral (BU) glands by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) [17, 38,43,45] and, more recently, two studies [42,44] were published by our group to correlate TEM with scanning electron microscopic (SEM) findings in order to describe the general configuration of this gland in man. Comparison of our results with those reported by the above authors has clearly shown that the human BU glands possess, like other human accessory sex organs [2,6,18,31,33, 41,43,45], some distinctive characteristics [44], even with regard to the more closely related species [29].


Secretory Granule Ductal Cell Mucous Cell Water Buffalo Secretory Component 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Abou-ElmagdA, Wrobel KH: The periurethral glandular complex in the water buffalo: Anultrastructural, histological and lectin-histochemical study. Arch Histol Cytol 52:501–512, 1989.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    AumüllerG: Prostate Gland and Seminal Vesicles. Berlin: Springer, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    BrausH: Uber den feineren Bau der Glandula bulbourethral (Cowperschen Drüse) desMenschen. Anat Anz 17:381–397, 1900.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Casanova S,Corrado F, Vignoli G: Endocrine-like cells in the epithelium of the human maleurethra. J Submicrosc Cytol 6:435–438, 1974.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coffey DS:Androgen action and the sex accessory tissues. In: The Physiology ofReproduction. E Knobil, JD Neil (eds). New York: Raven Press, 1988, pp1081–1119.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cossu M, MarcelloMF, Usai E, Testa Riva F, Riva A: Fine structure of the epithelium of the humanejaculatory duct. Acta Anat 116:225–233, 1983.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cossu M, Riva A,Lantini MS: Subcellular localization of blood group substances ABH in humansalivary glands. J Histochem Cytochem 38:1165–1172, 1990.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    CowdryEV: Special Cytology, Vol. III. New York: Hoeber, 1932.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    De Kretser DM,Temple-Smith PD, Kerr JB: Disturbance in Male Fertility. Bandhauer K, Frich J(eds). Berlin: Springer, 1982.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    DiSan’Agnese PA, De Mesy Jensen KL: Endocrine- paracrine cells of the prostateand prostatic urethra: An ultrastructural study. Hum Pathol 15:1034–1041, 1984.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    EvanAP, Dail WG, Damrose D, Palmer G: Scanning electron microscopy of cell surfacesfollowing removal of extracellular material. Anat Rec 185:435–446, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    FeagansWM, Belt WD, Sheridan MN: Fine structure of the acinar cell in the hamsterbulbourethral gland. Acta Anat 52:273–281, 1963.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    GattoneV II, Conforti J: A method for obtaining lateral surfaces of renal tubularcells for scanning electron microscopy. J Electr Microsc Techn 2:283–284, 1985.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    GeuzeJJ, Slot JW: Synthesis and secretion of glycoprotein in rat bulbourethral(Cowper’s) glands. II: Modes of mucus secretion after stimulation bycopulation. Am J Anat 152:391–418, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    GrzyckiS, Latalski M: Observations on the fine structure of rat bulbourethral glandcell. Z Mikrosk Anat Forsch 80:191–202, 1969.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    HarrisonJD, Auger DW, Paterson KL, Rowley PS A: Mucin histochemistry of submandibularand parotid salivary glands of man: Light and electron microscopy. Histochem J19:555–564, 1987.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    HellgrenL, Mylius E, Vincent J: The ultrastructure of the human bulbourethral gland. JSubmicrosc Cytol 14: 683–689, 1982.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    HofferAP. The ultrastructure of the ductus deferens in man. Bio Reprod 14:425–433,1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    HolbhuberKJ: Histochemische Untersuchungen am Sekret der Urethraldrusen bei Mensch undeinigen Saugern. Acta Histochem 33:331–346, 1969.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Holm-Nielsen E:The bulbourethral gland of the rat. Fine structure and histochemistry. Anat Anz 139:254–263, 1976.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lea PJ,Hollenberg MJ: Mitochondrial structure revealed by high-resolution scanningelectron microscopy. Am J Anat 184:245–257, 1989.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Littré A:Description de l’urètre de l’homme. Hist Acad Sci Ann 1700 (Paris)1700:311–316, 1719.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Low FN:Microdissection by ultrasonication for scanning electron microscopy. In: Cellsand Tissues: A Three Dimensional Approach by Modern Techniques in Microscopy.PM Motta (ed). New York: Alan R. Liss, 1989, pp 571–580.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Low FN, McClugageSG Jr: Microdissection by ultrasonication: Scanning electron microscopy of theepithelial basal lamina of the alimentary canal in the rat. Am J Anat 169:137–147, 1984.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Maggioni A,Caggiati A, Macchiarelli G: Scanning electron microscopy of microvessels andperivascular cells in different organs after KOH digestion. In: Cells andTissues: A Three Dimensional Approach by Modern Techniques in Microscopy. PMMotta (ed). New York: Alan R. Liss, 1989, pp 469–474.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mann T,Lutwak-Mann C: Male Reproductive Function and Semen. Berlin: Springer-Verlag,1981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Migliari R, RivaA, Lantini MS, Melis M, Usai E: Diffuse Lymphoid tissue associated with thehuman bulbourethral gland. An immunohistologic characterization. J Androl 13:337–341, 1992.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Miller BS, WoodsRI, Bohlen HG, Evan AP: A new morphological procedure of viewing microvessels:A scanning electron microscopic study of the vasculature of the smallintestine. Anat Rec 203:493–503, 1982.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Murakami M,Sugita A, Abe J, Hamasaki M, Shimada T: SEM observation of some exocrineglands, with special reference to configuration of the associated myoepithelialcells. Biomed Res 2(Suppl):99–102, 1981.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    NogueiraJC: Estudo histologico e ultramicroscopico da glandula bulbouretral de gato (Felisdomestica)adulto. Arg Esc Vet 22:175–177, 1970.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Orlandini GE,Holstein AF: La differenziazione e la progressione degli spermatozoi nell’uomo.Arch Ital Anat Embriol S91:ll-39, 1986.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Palacios J,Regadera J, Nistal M, Paniagua R: Apical mitochondria-rich cells in the humanepididymis: An ultrastructural, enzymohistochemical, and immunohistochemicalstudy. Anat Rec 231:82–88, 1991.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Riva A: Fine structure of human seminal vesicle epithelium. J Anat 102:71–86,1967.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Riva A, Congiu T,Faa G: The application of the OsO4 maceration method to the study ofhuman bioptic material. A procedure avoiding freeze-fracture. Microsc Res Techn 26:526–527, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Riva A, LantiniMS, Migliari R, Scarpa R, Cossu M: A correlative TEM-SEM study of the humanurethral glands. Bull Assoc Anat 75:73–76, 1991.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Riva A, LantiniMS, Testa Riva F: Normal human salivary glands. In: Ultrastructure of theExtraparietal Glands of the Digestive Tract. PM Motta (ed). Boston: KluwerAcademic, 1989, pp 53–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Riva A, MallardiV, Lantini MS, Valentino L, Testa Riva F: 3D microanatomy of human parotidgland. Bull Assoc Anat 75:171–175, 1991.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Riva A, Sirigu P,Testa Riva F, Usai E: Fine structure and histochemistry of epithelial cells ofthe human bulbourethral glands. Acta Anat 111:125–126, 1981.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Riva A, TandlerB: Salivari ghiandole. In: Enciclopedia Medica Italiana, Vol. 13, 2nd ed.Firenze: Utet-Sansoni Edizioni Scientifiche, 1986, pp 1729–1744.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Riva A, TandlerB, Testa Riva F: Ultrastructural observations on human sublingual gland. Am JAnat 181:385–392, 1988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Riva A, TestaRiva F, Usai E, Cossu M: The ampulla ductus deferentis in man, as viewed by SEMand TEM. Arch Androl 8:157–164, 1982.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Riva A, UsaiE,Cossu M, Lantini MS, Scarpa R, Testa- Riva F: Ultrastructure of humanbulbourethral glands and of their main excretory ducts. Arch Androl 24:177–184,1990.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Riva A, Usai E,Cossu M, Scarpa R, Testa Riva F: Anatomia ultrastrutturale delle ghiandoleannesse alFapparato genitale delFuomo. In: Attualità in Andrologia. R Giorgino,G Abbaticchio (eds). Bologna: Monduzzi Editore, 1984, pp 1–12.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Riva A, Usai E,Cossu M, Scarpa R, Testa Riva F: The human bulbourethral glands. A transmissionelectron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy study. J Androl 9:133–141,1988.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Riva A, Usai E, Scarpa R, Cossu M,Lantini MS: Fine structure of the accessory glands of the human male genitaltract. In: Developments in Ultrastructure of Reproduction. Progress in Clinicaland Biological Research, Vol. 296. PM Motta (ed). New York: Alan R. Liss,1989,pp 233–240.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Riva A, Usai E,Scarpa R, Lantini MS, Valentino L, Testa Riva F: Fine structure of humanurethral glands. In: IV International Congress of Andrology, Miniposters.Serono Symposium Review. M Serio (ed). Rome: Ares-Serono Symposia, 1989, p 331.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Riva A, ZaccheoD, Testa Riva F: A SEM study of the human parotid and submandibular glands.Proceedings of the Xlth International Congress on Electron Microscopy, Kyoto,1986, pp 2863–2864.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rorat E, FerenczyA, Richart RM: Human Bartholin gland, duct and duct cyst. Arch Pathol 99:367–374, 1975.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Schaffer J:Beitrage zur Histologic menschlicher Organe. VIII. Glandula bulbo-urethralis(Cowper) und vestibularis major (Bartholini). Sitzgsberg Akad Wiss Wien, Math-Naturwiss 1915-1917, Kl III 126:27-45.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Sirigu P, TurnoF, Perra MT, Usai E, Hafez ESE: Histochemistry of human urethral glands. ArchAndrol 26:43–51, 1991.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Sirigu P, TurnoF, Usai E, Perra MT: Histochemical study of the human bulbourethral (Cowper’s)glands. Andrologia 25:293–299, 1993.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Spring-Mills E,Hafez ESE: The bulbourethral glands. In: Male Accessory Sex Glands. ESpring-Mills, ESE Hafez (eds). Amsterdam: North Holland, Elsevier, 1980, pp93–99.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Stieve H: DieBulbourethraldruse. In: Handbuch der mikroskopischen Anatomie des Menschen,Vol. VII. W Mollendorf (ed). Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1930, pp 272–278.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Takahashi-IwanagaH, Fujita T: Application of an NaOH macerating method to a scanning electronmicroscopic observation of Ito cells in the rat liver. Arch Histol Jpn 49:349–357, 1986.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Tanaka K,Mitshuishima A: A preparation method for observing intracellular structures byscanning electron microscopy. J Microsc 133:213–222, 1984.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Vidic B, TandlerB: Ultrastructure of the secretory cells of the submucosal glands in the humanmaxillary sinuses. J Morphol 150:167–182, 1976.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Williams-AshmanHG: Perspectives in the male sexual physiology of eutherian mammals. In:Physiology of Reproduction. E Knobil, J Neill (eds). New York: Raven Press1988, pp 727–775.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Winslow JL,Hollenberg MJ, Lea PJ: Resolution limit of serial sections for 3Dreconstruction of tubular cristae in rat liver mitochondria. J Electron MicroscTechn 18: 241–248, 1991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Wrobel KH:Morphologische Untersuchungen an der Glandula bulbourethralis der Katze. ZZellforsch 101: 607–620, 1969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Wrobel KH:Studies on the ultrastructure and histochemistry of the bulbourethral gland inthe goat. Z Zellforsch 108:582–596, 1970.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Testa-Riva
  • Alessandro Riva
  • Terenzio Congiu
  • Antonello De Lisa
  • Pietro M. Motta

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations