Histology of the Ovary of the Laying Hen (Gallus domesticus)

Vet Sci. 2017 Dec 11;4(4):66. doi: 10.3390/vetsci4040066.


The laying hen (Gallus domesticus) is a robust animal model for epithelial ovarian cancer. The use of animal models is critical in identifying early disease markers and developing and testing chemotherapies. We describe the microscopic characteristics of the normally functioning laying hen ovary and proximal oviduct to establish baselines from which lesions associated with ovarian cancer can be more readily identified. Ovaries and oviducts were collected from 18-month-old laying hens (n = 18) and fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin. Hematoxylin- and eosin-stained sections were examined by light microscopy. Both post-ovulatory follicular regression and atresia of small follicles produce remnant clusters of vacuolated cells with no histological evidence that scar tissue persists. Infiltrates of heterophils are associated with atresia of small follicles, a relationship not previously documented in laying hen ovaries. Because these tissues can be mistaken for cancerous lesions, we present a detailed histological description of remnant Wolffian tissues in the laying hen ovary. Immunohistochemical staining for pancytokeratin produced a positive response in ovarian surface epithelium and staining for vimentin produced a positive response in granulosa cells of follicles. Epithelial cells lining glands of the remnant epoöphoron had a positive response to both pancytokeratin and vimentin, a result also observed in women.

Keywords: epithelial ovarian cancer; epoöphoron; histology; laying hen; ovarian surface epithelium; rete ovarii.