Ultrastructural localization of relaxin in the corpus luteum of the pregnant and early lactating tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii

Laura J Parry, Joan Marea Clark, Marilyn Renfree

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Electron-microscope immunocytochemistry was used to determine the subcellular distribution and presence of immunoreactive relaxin throughout pregnancy and early lactation in the corpus luteum of a marsupial, the tammar wallaby. Membrane-bound, electron-dense granules were a prominent feature of the luteal cell cytoplasm. The highest numbers of granules were observed between days 20 and 24 of the 26-day gestation, with a rapid clearance immediately after birth. Relaxin immunogold particles were present only in small, electron-dense granules (200-350 nm in diameter), with no particles observed in larger granules (>400 nm diameter), nuclei or mitochondria. Relaxin immunoreactivity was low throughout early and mid pregnancy but increased markedly between days 21 and 22 and remained high over the last 4 days of pregnancy. The number of granules containing relaxin immunogold particles and the density of immunostaining were both reduced on the day of expected births (day 26). Our data demonstrate that electron-dense granules in the luteal cell cytoplasm of a pregnant marsupial contain relaxin. The peptide is produced in greatest amounts at the end of pregnancy, consistent with a role in parturition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615 - 622
Number of pages8
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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