SEM of cell surfaces following HC1 and collagenase treatment

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The study of cell surfaces by scanning electron microscopy has been limited due to the presence of extracellular material that masks the underlying structures. In the present report, we have employed a HCl and collagenase digestion procedure to remove the connective tissue elements. This technique was applied to human skin, kidney, blood vessels and an autonomic ganglion of the rat. It was determined that complete digestion of the extracellular material was obtained only on fixed tissue that was subsequently treated with HCl followed by collagenase. The basal surface of proximal tubule cells possessed numerous basilar interdigitations that appear as parallel ridges encircling the tubule. The renal corpuscle revealed normal foot processes. Also the vascular pole with its afferent and efferent arteriole was visible. The dermal surface of the human epidermis had a honeycomb appearance due to the numerous pits for the extracellular dermal pegs. Neurons with their overlapping processes of satellite cell and fibers were evident after the extracellular material was removed. Nodes of Ranvier were seen early along the nerve fibers. With these methods, surfaces not ordinarily visible after routine preparation procedures, were not accessible while still obtaining good preservation of all cell surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalBiomedical Research
Issue numberSuppl.
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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