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Keywords:

  • uropygial gland;
  • chicken;
  • apoptosis;
  • survivin;
  • Bax;
  • PCNA;
  • holocrine

This study was designed to elucidate the presence of apoptosis and the localization of apoptosis-related Bax and survivin proteins and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) within the chicken uropygial gland, a specialized holocrine secretory gland. In day-old chicks, survivin and Bax immunoreactivities were observed in the cell cytoplasm of the germinative and secretory layers of the luminal epithelium and tubules. During this period, the TUNEL reaction, an indication of apoptosis, was only sporadically positive in the tubules. From the 7th day to the 150th day of posthatching, survivin was detected in the cytoplasm of cells in the germinative layer and in the nuclei of some cells in the secretory layers of the gland. The germinative layer cells showed weak homogeneous cytoplasmic staining for Bax, whereas the cells of the secretory and intermediate layers of luminal epithelium and tubules exhibited granular cytoplasmic staining. After day 7, TUNEL-positive cells were observed in the secretory and degenerative layers of the luminal epithelium and central tubules. After day 12, some TUNEL-positive cells were also seen in the peripheral tubules. At all posthatch ages, the cytoplasm and nucleus of the germinative layers of luminal epithelium and tubules reacted with PCNA, whereas only a small number of cell nuclei in the secretory layers were immunopositive. These results support the theory that specific PCNA/Bax/survivin expression patterns could reflect particular cell differentiation states in the uropygial gland and that holocrine secretion in the gland is realized mainly by way of apoptosis. Anat Rec, 296:504–520, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.