Scanning electron microscopy of cell surfaces following removal of extracellular material

Andrew P. Evan, William G. Dail, Douglas Dammrose, Charles Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

164 Scopus citations


The application of scanning electron microscopy to the study of cell surfaces is limited in intact tissues, because extracellular material may often obscure the details of nonluminal surfaces. To remove connective tissue elements we have treated human skin and both kidney, and an autonomic ganglion of the rat with hydrochloric acid and collagenase. Regional variations in the basal surface of the nephron are noted following removal of the basement membrane. The basilar interdigitations of the cells of the proximal tubule appeared as parallel ridges encircling the tubule. Ridges on the parietal epithelium of Bowman's capsule were randomly arranged and alternated with smooth surfaces. The dermal surface of the human epidermis has an alveolar or honeycomb appearance due to the elevation of the epidermal ridges and numerous pits for the dermal pegs. At higher magnifications the basal surface of cells of the stratum germinativum possessed numerous and irregular projections. Neurons with their processes are evident in the autonomic ganglion. The soma of the neurons are enclosed by flattened satellite cells. Irregular spaces between opposed satellite cells are interpreted as regions for the passage of processes related to the ganglion cells. Nodes of Ranvier were clearly seen along nerve fibers. Some pitting of the nerve fibers was also noted. The HCl‐collagenase method has the advantage of the removal of collagen and basement membrane while preserving the structural integrity of the cell surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-445
Number of pages13
JournalThe Anatomical Record
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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