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Morphological, histological and histochemical studies of the pituitary glands of ovine freemartins
  1. K. C. Smith1,
  2. T. J. Parkinson1,
  3. S. E. Long1,
  4. G. R. Pearson2 and
  5. L Sylvester3
  1. 1 Department of Clinical Veterinary Science
  2. 2 Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU
  3. 3 Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough LE12 5RD


Freemartins are XX/XY chimaeras that develop as a result of the fusion of the placental circulation of at least one male and one female fetus. The pituitary glands of eight normal ewes at various stages of the oestrous cycle and three rams were compared with those of two male-type and three undifferentiated-type freemartins. The pituitaries were heaviest in the male-type freemartins, and their pattern of gonadotrophs, assessed by differential staining, was more intense than in the normal males. The pituitaries of the undifferentiated-type freemartins weighed less than those of the normal ewes but had more stained gonadotrophs than the normal ewes or rams. In both types of freemartins the pattern of cells resembled that of a castrated male.

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