The ultrastructure of human corpora lutea obtained during the 6th, 10th, 16th, and 35th week of pregnancy is reported. Differences between the established luteal cell of pregnancy and the transitory luteal cell of the menstrual cycle are noted. In pregnancy the luteal cell is more compartmentalized into a peripheral mass of ER (endoplasmic reticulum) and a central area where mitochondria and Golgi complexes are concentrated. The latter area extends to a cell surface where microvilli face on a perivascular space. Long bundles of filaments are prominent within the luteal cell cytoplasm and, in contiguous cells, appear to arise from adjacent desmosomal regions. Bilateral subsurface cisternae of granular ER at lateral cell borders appear to be areas of specialized junctional surfaces. Certain luteal cells with irregular nuclear membranes are also characterized by vesicular aggregates enclosed within a single membrane. These aggregates are found within the peripheral nucleoplasm or the perinuclear cytoplasm. Their single limiting membrane often appears continuous with either the inner or outer leaflet of the nuclear membrane.

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