Androgen-dependent mast cell degranulation in the Harderian gland of female Syrian hamsters: in vivo and organ culture evidence

Anat Embryol (Berl). 1997 Aug;196(2):133-40. doi: 10.1007/s004290050086.


In previous articles we have reported the "disappearance" of Harderian gland mast cells (HGMC) after treatment with testosterone. In the present work we study: (a) if the apparent decrease in the number of mast cells caused by this androgen is real or is due to the fact that testosterone induces mast cell degranulation that avoids its recognition by toluidine blue staining; (b) if testosterone acts through its receptor directly on the Harderian gland (HG). In order to give an answer to the first question, we observed HG of female Syrian hamsters treated with testosterone under the electron microscope to find the possible degranulated mast cells not recognizable with the aid of the toluidine blue staining. We also studied in vivo and in vitro the effects of the beta-agonists isoproterenol and salbutamol, given that they increase cAMP and can therefore prevent degranulation of mast cells. Finally we have used cytocalasin B, which inhibits degranulation by blocking actin depolimerization. Both the beta-agonists and cytochalasin B were able to prevent the decrease of mast cells, as recognized by staining with toluidine blue after treatment with testosterone. Indeed, when observed under the electron microscope, abundant degranulated mast cells were found after treatment with testosterone. For solving the second issue we analyzed the effect of the antiandrogen cyproterone acetate in vivo and in vitro. Our results demonstrate that testosterone is able to induce degranulation of HGMC in the Syrian hamster Mesocricetus auratus and that this effect is achieved directly through its receptor on the Harderian gland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albuterol / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cell Degranulation* / drug effects
  • Cricetinae
  • Cyproterone Acetate / pharmacology
  • Cytochalasin B / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Harderian Gland / drug effects
  • Harderian Gland / physiology*
  • Harderian Gland / ultrastructure
  • Isoproterenol / pharmacology
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / physiology*
  • Mast Cells / ultrastructure
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Testosterone / pharmacology
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Cytochalasin B
  • Testosterone
  • Cyproterone Acetate
  • Isoproterenol
  • Albuterol