In an electron microsope study, the morphology of mature Paneth cells from the small intestine of adult rats is compared with that of differentiating Paneth cells from young rats 2 to 4 weeks old. All mature cells exhibit a marked polarity similar to that of other exocrine gland cells and contain a well developed endoplasmic reticulum, an elaborate Golgi complex, and numerous large secretory granules; they also possess an abundance of lysosomes. The most conspicuous occurrence in the process of differentiation is the development of the endoplasmic reticulum. The most immature Paneth cells possess an endoplasmic reticulum of the vesicular type, which, during maturation, is replaced by the characteristic lamellated ergastoplasm of the mature cell. At a certain stage of differentiation the cavities of the developing cisternae show numerous communications with the perinuclear space, suggesting an outgrowth of the ergastoplasm from the nuclear envelope. Furthermore, the cavities and the perinuclear space at this particular stage contain a material which shows a remarkable intrinsic periodicity. An identical periodicity was exhibited by material contained in Golgi cisternae and secretory granules. Lysosomes are also present in the differentiating cells.

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