Histological structure of the adrenal gland of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) from the Adriatic Sea.
The morphology and histology of the cetacean adrenal gland are poorly understood. Therefore, this study examined 32 pairs of adrenal glands from 18 pan-tropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) and 14 spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris). In both species, the cortex was pseudolobulated and contained a typical mammalian zonation. Medullary protrusions (0-3 per section) and a medullary band were identified in both species. For S. attenuata, no statistical differences were found in the cortex to medulla (CM) ratio or the percent cross-sectional area (PCA) of the adrenal glands compared with sex or sexual maturity. The mean CM ratio for S. attenuata was 2.34 and the PCA was 64.4% cortex, 29.4% medulla and 6.2%'other'. 'Other' indicates blood vessels, connective tissue and the gland capsule itself. For S. longirostris, there was no statistical difference in the CM ratio compared with sexual maturity. However, a statistical difference was found between the CM ratio and sex, suggesting sexual dimorphism (female CM ratio = 2.46 and males = 3.21). No statistical differences were found in the PCA of S. longirostris adrenal glands by sexual maturity. However, a statistical difference was found between the PCA by sex. Female S. longirostris adrenal glands consisted of 65.0% cortex, 27.3% medulla and 7.7% 'other', whereas male adrenal glands consisted of 71.7% cortex, 22.7% medulla and 5.6% 'other'.