The normal genital tract of the female California sea lion (Zalophus californianus): Cyclic changes in histomorphology and hormone receptor distribution

Kathleen M. Colegrove, Frances M D Gulland, Diane K. Naydan, Linda J Lowenstine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Changes in reproductive tract histomorphology, and estrogen (ERα) and progesterone receptor (PR) expression throughout the breeding cycle were evaluated in free-ranging stranded female California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Hormone receptor expression in the ovaries, uterus, cervix, and vagina was evaluated using an immunohistochemical technique with monoclonal antibodies. During a large portion of the cycle, ovaries contained both a corpora lutea (CL) and follicles in varying stages of development. In the periods of pupping and estrus during June and July, and in the spring morphologic features of the endometrium suggested estrogen influence. There were areas of squamous differentiation in the pseudostratified columnar epithelium of the cervix and vagina in some animals during estrus and in the spring. Estrogen receptor immunohistochemical scores were highest during pupping and estrus and in the spring and lowest during embryonic diapause. Cyclic changes in uterine PR expression throughout the cycle were minimal. Both ERα and PR were expressed in epithelial and stromal cells throughout the cervix and vagina, however, receptor expression was typically higher in the stroma. Stromal cell hormone receptors may play an important role in epithelial responses to circulating sex hormones. The results of this investigation add to the general knowledge of California sea lion reproduction and establish baseline information on reproductive tract hormone receptors that will aid in determining the factors involved in urogenital cancer development in sea lions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1801-1817
Number of pages17
JournalAnatomical Record
Volume292
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Keywords

  • California sea lion
  • Embryonic diapause
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Progesterone receptor
  • Reproductive tract
  • Urogenital cancer
  • Zalophus californianus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biotechnology

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