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Effect of a low calcium diet on the ultrastructure of the parathyroid gland of chicks

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The effect of a low calcium diet on the ultrastructure of the parathyroid gland in the chick was examined. Two-week-old White Leghorn chicks were fed a low calcium diet (calcium content 0.63%) for two weeks. In these chicks, the parathyroid glands are grossly enlarged. Hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the chief cells are evident. The plasma membranes between adjacent cells are relatively straight but interdigitate in some places. Chief cells contain occasional membrane-limited secretory granules (150–350 mμ in diameter) and with contents of variable electron density. Secretory granules are distributed randomly but some are closely applied to the plasma membrane. There is an increase in the development of the rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum. The Golgi complex is enlarged and consists of cisternae arranged in concentric layers, smooth-surfaced and coated vesicles and condensing vacuoles. Dilatations of the cisternae at several points are observed. Mitochondria and filaments are also encountered. These morphological features suggest that low calcium intake stimulates the synthetic activity of the chief cells of the chick parathyroid.

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Correspondence to Dr. An Soo Chan.

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Chan, A.S. Effect of a low calcium diet on the ultrastructure of the parathyroid gland of chicks. Cell Tissue Res. 173, 71–76 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00219266

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Key words

  • Parathyroid gland
  • Chicks
  • Low calcium diet
  • Ultrastructure
  • Secretory granules