We used an analytical color fluorescence electron microscope to observe cathodoluminescence (CL) in the corpus luteum of rat. CL was emitted from lipid droplets and has a typical spectrum of two peaks at wavelengths of 320 and 430 nm. The intensity of CL at 320 nm (CL320) in the corpus luteum showed a regular change during an estrous cycle: it was very weak at the newly formed stage, gradually increased, reached the maximum at diestrus 2, and then began to diminish at proestrus except in the patches of degenerated cells. CL320 decreased during early stages of pregnancy or after prolonged treatment with 4-aminopyrazolo-pyrimidine; CL at 430 nm (CL430) remained clearly visible. CL320 showed a strong emission from degenerated luteal cells 10 days after hypophysectomy, but was diminished in cells rescued by injection of 50 IU pregnant mare's serum gonadotropin. In the luteal cells of luteinized ovary 2 hr after intravenous injection of 10 IU luteinizing hormone, CL was barely detected. CL320 in interstitial cells was also weak in the rats hypophysectomized and then treated with pregnant mare's serum gonadotropin, and in the 4-aminopyrazolo-pyrimidine-treated rats, although it has little change through a natural estrous cycle. The results are consistent with the assumption that the content of cholesterol ester is reflected by the intensity of CL320 emitted from the lipid droplets of rat luteal cells. The possibility was shown that the condition of steroidogenesis can be monitored through CL analysis by microscopy.
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