Ultrastructure of the normal adult human female prostate gland (Skene's gland)

Anat Embryol (Berl). 2000 Jan;201(1):51-61. doi: 10.1007/pl00022920.


The predominant cells of female prostatic glands lining their lumen were found to be tall cylindrical secretory cells with short stubby microvilli, protuberances of the apical cytoplasm, and with bleb formation. Abundant secretory vacuoles and granules, rough endoplasmic reticulum, developed Golgi complexes and numerous mitochondria are characteristic of their active secretory configuration with apocrine (apical blebs) and merocrine (secretory vacuoles and granules) type of secretion. Basal (reserve) cells were seen to be located between the secretory (luminal) cells and the basement membrane. Their ground cytoplasm is dense with rough endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. Their nuclei, unlike those of secretory cells, possess more peripheral condensed chromatin, denser dispersed chromatin and sporadic nucleoli. Besides the two basic types of mature prostatic cells intermediary cells were also seen, located between the basal and secretory cells or in their close vicinity. Their cytoplasm exhibits numerous profiles of rough endoplasmic reticulum and free ribosomes. Secretory vacuoles and granules were mostly practically absent (type 1 intermediary cells) so that they resembled basal (reserve) cells. In some of them, however, as in secretory cells, such secretory elements do gradually appear (type 2 intermediary cells). The finding of intermediary cells in the lining of prostatic glands supports the role of basal (reserve) cells in the renewal of cells in glands of the female prostate. The first ultrastructural analysis of the normal female prostate performed by transmission electron microscopy showed that, as in the postpubertal male, the prostatic glands in the adult female display mature secretory and basal cells. The results of the presented study further corroborate the contemporary concept of the female prostate as a functional genitourinary organ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Basement Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostate / metabolism
  • Prostate / ultrastructure*
  • Reference Values
  • Urethra / metabolism
  • Urethra / ultrastructure