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Ultimobranchial gland of the domestic fowl

Two types of secretory cells involved in calcitonin metabolism

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The ultimobranchial gland (UBG) of birds is particularly rich in calcitonin, the hypocalcaemic hypophosphataemic hormone, that is secreted by the C-cells of the mammalian thyroid. The principal cells of the UBG have a striking resemblance with the mammalian C-cells, i.e., they possess small intracytoplasmic dense-core secretory granules, 150–300 nm in diameter. The gland also contains a second, morphologically distinct, endocrine cell type with larger granules, 500–800 nm in diameter. A sensitive immunocytochemical reaction was developed with the use of antibodies against salmon calcitonin. By means of this technique the presence of calcitonin-immunoreactive molecules was demonstrated in both secretory cell types of the UB gland of the chicken. This gland can thus be considered as a homogeneous calcitonin-producing tissue. Whether the secretory products are identical is discussed and differences in the secretory pathways are suggested.

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Correspondence to F. Treilhou-Lahille.

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Treilhou-Lahille, F., Lasmoles, F., Taboulet, J. et al. Ultimobranchial gland of the domestic fowl. Cell Tissue Res. 235, 439–448 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00217871

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Key words

  • Ultimobranchial gland
  • Endocrine cell types
  • Calcitonin
  • Secretory processs
  • Chicken