• Golgi apparatus;
  • Mammary gland;
  • Acinar cells;
  • Lactation;
  • Post-lactation;
  • Lactose;
  • Casein


The structural features of the Golgi apparatus of acinar cells of mammary glands were examined with the electron microscope in 3 groups of rats: (1) in lactating female animals at 8 days postpartum, which served as controls; (2) in female rats sacrificed at various intervals from 2 to 30 hours following separation from their 8-day old pups; and (3) in females separated from their 8-day-old pups for a period of 12 hours and returned to their litters for durations of 1, 2, 4, and 8 horus. In animals of group 2, the Golgi stacks remained identical to that of controls between 2 and 8 hours. At 12 hours and later, the Golgi stacks decreased progressively in size, but the number of elements composing the stacks remained similar to that of lactating females and all contained casein submicelles. At 24 and 30 hours, typical secretory granules containing casein micelles disappeared from the trans aspect of the stacks. The earliest and most striking changes observed in the Golgi apparatus of the rats of group 2 took place at 12 hours. At this time, the prosecretory and secretory granules decreased considerably in volume and lost most of their electron-lucent content. This indicated that the delivery of small molecules, i.e., lactose and H2O, to these structures was soon altered following arrest of the sucking stimulus. In animals of group 3, the size of prosecretory and secretory granules and the amount of their electron-lucent content reverted to normal at 4 hours. Thus the influx of lactose and H2O into these structures appears to be rapidly restored after returning the pups to their mothers. The decrease in size of the Golgi stacks noted at 12, 18, and 24 hours following arrest of lactation (group 2), was accompanied by an increase in number of small vesicles that formed clusters next to the Golgi stacks and in “wells.” Thus in these regressing Golgi stacks, many of the associated small vesicles appear to arise by vesiculation of the saccules. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.