In newborn rodents, seminal vesicle epithelium (SVEP) cells display a poorly developed rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) and Golgi complex, and they show no signs of secretion. From puberty onward, secretory material starts to appear, and the RER and Golgi complex progressively develop and reorganize until the adult ultrastructure is established around 40–60 days of age. Multivesicular bodies and lysosomes follow in this development but lysosomes evolve to lipofucsin granules with aging. The duration of the secretory cycle in SVEP cells is shorter than in other exocrine cells and the secretory protein pattern depends on the animal species, androgen status, and sexual activity. SVEP cells are also involved in endocytosis, which is coupled to exocytosis, and their endocytic pathway intersects the exocytic pathway in Golgi cisterns. The structure and function of SVEP cells depends mainly on testosterone, but other hormones and factors, such as the neuropeptide VIP, also influence their activity. Castration leads to programmed death and regression of SVEP cells to an extent that depends on the animal species. In addition, castration induces changes in the secretory protein pattern and delays its intracellular transport. Endocytic kinetics is also delayed following castration. Primary cultures of SVEP cells in a bicameral system are proposed as a model to investigate the activities of SVEP cells further. © 1995, Academic Press Inc. All rights reserved.
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