Ovarian cysts in MRL / MpJ mice are derived from the extraovarian rete: a developmental study

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MRL/MpJ (MRL) mice, commonly used as a model for autoimmune disease, have a high frequency of ovarian cysts originating from the rete ovarii. In the present study, to clarify how the rete ovarii, which are remnants of mesonephric tubules during embryogenesis, progress to cystic formation with aging, the morphology of MRL rete ovarii was analyzed and compared with that of normal C57BL/6N (B6) mice. In B6 mice, the rete ovarii consisted of a series of tubules, including the extraovarian rete (ER), the connecting rete (CR), and the intraovarian rete (IR), based on their location. Whereas the ER of B6 mice was composed of highly convoluted tubules lined by both ciliated and non-ciliated epithelia, the tubules in the CR and IR had only non-ciliated cells. In MRL mice, dilations of the rete ovarii initiated from the IR rather than the ER or CR. Although the histological types of cells lining the lumen of the rete ovarii were the same as those in B6 mice, the ER in MRL mice showed a variety in morphology. In particular, the connections between the ER and ovary tended to disappear with increasing age and the development of ovarian cysts. Furthermore, the epithelium lining the large ovarian cysts in MRL mice had ciliated cells forming the cluster. On the basis of these findings, it is suggested that cystic changes of the rete ovarii in MRL mice are caused by the dilations of the IR with invasion of the ER and CR into the ovarian medulla. These data provide new pathological mechanisms for ovarian cyst formation.

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