Fixation under ‘improper’ conditions ofin vitro cultivated cells results in an extensive diffusion of the lysosomal enzyme acid phosphatase because of the influence of a low effective osmotic pressure. In the present investigation, advantage was taken of this predictable diffusion in order to establish whether or not leakage of acid phosphatase could take place through ultrastructurally ‘intact’ lysosomal membranes.
In order to reveal small holes in the lysosomal membranes, secondary lysosomes were labelled with thorium dioxide particles, which were presumed to appear free in the cell sap if ruptures in the membranes larger than about Ioo Å were created.
The experiments revealed that following the fixation ofin vitro cultivated human glia cells under ‘improper’ conditions, mitochondria and ground cytoplasm show considerable swelling artifacts, while secondary lysosomes appear to be essentially unaffected. The lysosomes, nevertheless, apparently lost most of their content of acid phosphatase, as judged from enzyme cytochemical studies. These findings indicate that leakage of acid phosphatase from ultrastructurally ‘intact’ lysosomes is possible.