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Rodler, Daniela; Stein, K.; Korbel, R. (2015): Observations on the Right Ovary of Birds of Prey: A Histological and Immunohistochemical Study. In: Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia, Vol. 44, No. 3: pp. 168-177
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In most avian species, only the left ovary and oviduct are developed in the adult bird. Right ovaries and oviducts usually do not mature further after hatching and remain only rudimentary. However, occurrence of a functional right ovary is frequently found in several species of birds of prey. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of the right ovaries and their morphology in these bird species. Four examined wild bird species possessed a right ovary: long-eared owl, common buzzard, sparrow hawk and goshawk. We used histological and immunohistochemical techniques to evaluate structural differences of the gonads and tried to correlate the findings with folliculogenesis and endocrine functions. The right ovaries showed different sizes and shapes. Cytoskeletal elements (tubulin and vimentin) and α-smooth muscle actin have been detected in different structures of the right ovaries, but their staining intensity was weaker compared with the left ovary. This shows that also the right ovary is mechanically able to ovulate. We could also demonstrate the expression of oestrogen receptor α and progesterone receptor in the right ovaries, which indicates that also the right ovary can respond to steroid hormone stimuli. We assume that the expression of steroid hormone receptors in the presumptive gonad is still sufficient to mediate the development of a right ovary in the studied species. We conclude that the expression of steroid hormone receptors in the right ovary is involved in its post-natal development. The histological and immunohistochemical data also imply that in the right ovary, folliculogenesis and ovulation can occur.