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apocrine glands

Monday 6 December 2004


Definition : Apocrine is a term used to classify exocrine glands in the study of histology. Cells which are classified as "apocrine" bud their secretions off through the plasma membrane producing extracellular membrane-bound vesicles.

The apical portion of the secretory cell of the gland pinches off and enters the lumen. It loses part of its cytoplasm in their secretions.

Apocrine glands are found primarily in the breast of lactating mammals (i.e. the mammary glands are apocrine glands).

Secretion occurs when the release of secretory materials is accompanied with loss of part of cytoplasm.

Apocrine secretion is less damaging to the gland than holocrine secretion (which destroys a cell) but more damaging than merocrine secretion (exocytosis).

An example of true apocrine glands is the mammary glands, responsible for secreting breast milk.


- cutaneous apocrine glands


- apocrine metaplasia
- apocrine tumors

  • apocrine carcinoma

See also

- exocrine glands