The aim of this study was to investigate the components of the ovary in the sexually immature ostrich by using immunohistochemistry, light microscopy and electron microscopy. The light and electron microscopic studies carried out, revealed that the oocyte in the sexually immature ostrich is surrounded by seven layers which included the zona radiata,lamina perivitellina, stratum granulosum, basal lamina, thecal layers (theca interna and theca externa), connective tissue layer and superficial epithelium (see details in Chapter Two and Three). Several morphological and immunohistochemical changes occurred as the follicles developed and regressed, suggesting that ovarian follicles in the sexually immature ostrich undergo a cycle of growth and degeneration as reported in other avian species. In the present study, thecal gland cells in the ovary of the sexually immature ostrich were common. In addition, interstitial gland cells were a notable feature in atretic follicles as described in the ovary of the crow, common myna and dove (Guraya and Chalana, 1976). Further investigations on the interstitial gland cells will provide an insight into the process of steroidogenesis in the sexually immature ostrich. As discussed in Chapter five, various cells in the ovary showed immunoreactivity to oestrogen, progesterone and androgen receptors. These observations indicated that the ovarian tissue in the sexually immature ostrich is a potential target for gonadal hormones. Thus, it can be assumed that steroid hormones regulate ovarian functions in the ostrich. The use of immunohistochemical procedures proved to be an excellent method to investigate the distribution of nerves in the ovary. The results of this study have shown that the ovary in the sexually immature ostrich is well-innervated. However, further studies are required to differentiate between cholinergic and adrenergic nerve fibres.
Dissertation (MSc(Anatomy and Physiology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.