The leukocytic organ of the megascolecid earthworm, Amynthas diffringens (annelida, oligochaeta)

Friedman, M.M.; Weiss, L.

Journal of Morphology 174(3): 251-268


ISSN/ISBN: 1097-4687
PMID: 30103571
DOI: 10.1002/jmor.1051740302
Accession: 065595065

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Leukocytic organs of Amynthas diffringens are aggregations of leukocytes contained within a smooth muscle and stromal cell framework suspended in the coelom. Elongate processes of stromal cells subdivide each organ into numerous cell-filled compartments and are perforated by 130-nm pores that may permit the exchange of humoral substances between compartments, or between the organ and the surrounding coelomic fluid. We divide leukocytes within the organs into four morphotypes. Phagocytic leukocytes have many lysosomelike vesicles and may possess phagosomes. Mature types I, II, and III granulocytic leukocytes share certain features but are readily distinguished by cell shape and by the size, shape, and electron density of the cytoplasmic inclusions. Immature as well as mature phagocytes and granulocytes occur within these organs, suggesting that they are sites of leukocyte maturation and storage. Concentrations of leukocytes within the organs result in extensive cell to cell contact, especially within islets and tightly packed cords. Phagocytosis of cell debris occurs throughout the organs. Immature stages of the four morphotypes are difficult to distinguish even at high magnification, raising the possibility that they may originate from a common precursor. Our inability to observe mitoses or to detect lymphocytelike stem cells suggests that immature leukocytes migrate to the organs via coelomic fluid from as yet unidentified primary sites of production.