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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 13 - Female Reproductive System

Plate 13.250 Corpus Luteum

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed


Plate 13.250 Corpus Luteum

Human, 10% formalin, H. & E., 162 x.


The corpus luteum (yellow body) is a stage in the transformation of an ovarian follicle following ovulation.

Granulosa lutein cells: Larger in size, more centrally located; nuclei less densely stained and cytoplasm more abundant. They are transformed cells of the stratum granulosum of the ovarian follicle.

Theca lutein cells: Smaller, have less cytoplasm, are more peripherally located, and nuclei stain more densely. They are transformed cells of the theca interna of the ovarian follicle.

Both types of cells are epithelioid and produce steroids. The corpus luteum secretes both estrogens and progestins. Progesterone induces changes in the uterine endometrium (secretory phase), in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized ovum, and inhibits spontaneous contractions of the smooth muscle of the uterus so that gestation can be maintained. The vacuoles seen in some cells are due to the lipid droplets dissolved during processing of tissue.

Ovarian stroma: Connective tissue stroma, remnant of theca externa of the ovarian follicle. Sends fine septa into the parenchyma.

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