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On the sexual segment of the kidney in the snake (Natrix natrix)

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The sexual segment of the kidney of Natrix natrix has been investigated cytochemically, light microscopically and ultrastructurally. The sexual segment, which seems to be an important accessory sexual organ, has a single layer of a columnar epithelium. The epithelial cells are filled with large secretion granules of a wide range of electron densities. Cytochemical reactions for neutral and acid mucosubstances are negative, but the cells show a strong positive staining for phospholipids. Within the cells of the sexual segment we have localised by histochemical means several hydrolases and oxydoreductases, which reflect enzyme activities of the glycolytic pathway, the citrate cycle, and related metabolic pathways. The activities of the hydrolytic enzymes acid phosphatase, acetylcholinesterase and indoxylacetate esterase are remarkably high within the epithelial cells.

Furthermore it was found that the sexual segment tubules possess contractile elements which extends over the basal surface of the epithelial cells. These contractile cells exhibit a very high activity of alkaline phosphatase.

Single unmyelinated axons are located between the contractile elements and the basal lamina of the sexual segment cells. The functional significance of the sexual segment structures is briefly discussed.

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This investigation was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Ku 210/4) and by the Stiftung Volkswagenwerk.

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Kühnel, W., Krisch, B. On the sexual segment of the kidney in the snake (Natrix natrix). Cell Tissue Res. 148, 417–429 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00224268

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Key words

  • Kidney
  • Sexual segment
  • Natrix natrix
  • Histochemistry
  • Electron microscopy