Electron microscopic studies of the bursa of Fabricius during the 15th and 16th day of embryonic development in the chick have shown the following findings in the submicroscopic structure of the cellular elements of the lympho-epithelial follicles. In the medulla, basal endodermal epithelial cells undergo mitosis and differentiation into lymphoblasts. During this transformation, there is a reduction in the amount of rough endoplasmic reticulum, an increase in the number or ribosomes, and frequently an enlargement of the Golgi complex. As lymphoblasts differentiate into medium lymphocytes there is a loss of endoplasmic reticulum, a reduction in the number of ribosomes and in the size of the Golgi complex, as well as a decrease in the number and size of mitochondria and in the size of the cell and nucleus. Cytoplasmic processes of reticular-epithelial cells extend between proliferating lymphocytic cells. Desmosomes connect stellate reticular-epithelial and basal epithelial cells but are not present in lymphocytic cells. Nuclear blebbing and vesiculation are frequently observed in the various cell forms of the developing lympho-epithelial nodules. Although lymphocytes and lymphocytopoietic activities in the cortex are sparse during this stage of embryonic development of the bursa, transitional forms between mesenchymal cells and lymphoblasts have been encountered. In addition, lymphoblasts and/or undifferentiated epithelial cells occasionally may pass through the basement membrane from the medulla into the cortical region of the developing nodule. That lymphocytes in the bursa of Fabricius originate from both endodermal and mesodermal derivatives during embryonic development appears to be consistent with both light and electron microscopic observations.

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