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The Bovine Luteal Histological Composition: A Topographic Point of View


Author's address (for correspondence): G Opsomer, Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium. E-mail:


High-yielding dairy cows are struggling with a high incidence of embryonic loss, among others caused by an insufficient peripheral progesterone concentration which for its part might be associated with an impaired luteal progesterone production. This impaired capacity to produce progesterone might be reflected in the histology of the gland. The aim of the present pilot study was the assessment of the variation in cell density within a bovine luteal gland (LG), to examine whether it is possible to analyse histologically the functionality of the gland based on one single tissue sample. Six LGs (stage II or III) were harvested out of just as many healthy cows at the slaughterhouse. The luteal cell density was assessed by calculating the nuclear density (ND) of the different luteal cell types on haematoxylin-eosin-stained histological sections from a number of topographic regions evenly spread throughout the glands, to give an overview of the pattern of cellular distribution within the whole gland. Cells were differentiated into ‘large luteal cells’, ‘small luteal cells’ and ‘non-steroidogenic cells’. Results show that the cellular density, within a tissue sample is not significantly influenced by its location in relation to the gland's equatorial plane. However, the position with respect to the polar axis of the gland has a decisive effect, as the ND is significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the peripheral regions (outer zone) when compared with the central regions (inner zone) of the gland, and this counts for all three cell types.