Prostatic ductal system in rats: Regional variation in morphological and functional activities

C. Lee*, J. A. Sensibar, S. M. Dudek, R. A. Hiipakka, Liao Shutsung Liao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


The rat prostate is a complex ductal system with branches and subbranches extending from one end to another. Owing to the relative distance of various regions of the duct from the urethra, the entire length of the ductal system can be arbitrarily divided into three segments, i.e., the proximal, intermediate, and distal segments. The present study was carried out to assess the regional variation in cellular activities in this ductal system. Ventral prostates from adult Sprague-Dawley rats were dissected so that an individual ductal system was mechanically isolated and longitudinally sectioned to reveal various segments. Epithelial cells lining distal segments were tall-columnar type and were actively engaging in mitotic activity. Cells in intermediate segments were also tall-columnar type. However, they were mitotically quiescent, but able to produce secretory proteins. Evidence of programmed cell death was not observed in either of these two segments. Cells in proximal segments, on the other hand, were low-columnar or cuboidal in shape and were stained heavily for cathepsin D, a marker associated with late manifestation of cell death. Following castration in adult rats, there was a reversal in the site of programmed death in cells lining the ductal system. By Day 4 post-castration, distal segments contained many epithelial cells with intense cytoplasmic staining for cathepsin D while proximal segments showed a reduction in number of positively stained cells. By Day 7 post-castration, cells in proximal segments, though atrophied, were devoid of staining for cathepsin D. Therefore, there was a shift in the location of cell death from proximal segments toward distal segments in the rat prostate during castration-induced regression. These unusual phenomena of the rat prostate probably can be attributed to regional variations in responsiveness of epithelial cells to androgen stimulation and androgen depletion along the prostatic ductal system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1086
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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