, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 97-103

Enzyme histochemistry of rat mast cell tryptase

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Fixation and staining conditions for rat mast cell tryptase and its histochemical distribution in different rat tissues were investigated. Prostate, skin, lung, gut, stomach and salivary glands were fixed in either aldehyde or Carnoy fixatives and then frozen or embedded in paraffin wax. Preservation of tryptase enzymic activity against peptide substrates required aldehyde fixation and frozen sectioning. Of the peptide substrates examined, z-Ala-Ala-Lys-4-methoxy-2-naphthylamide and z-Gly-Pro-Arg-4-methoxy-2-naphthylamide proved the most effective for the demonstration of tryptase. Double staining by enzyme cytochemistry followed by immunological detection of tryptase showed that, in all tryptase-containing mast cells, the enzyme is at least in part active. Conventional dye-binding histochemistry was used to confirm the identity of mast cells. Aldehyde-fixed mucosal mast cells required a much shorter staining time with Toluidine Blue if tissue sections were washed directly in t-butyl alcohol. Double staining by enzyme cytochemistry and dye binding showed that tryptase is absent from mucosal and subepidermal mast cells, which are also smaller in size and appear to contain fewer granules than connective tissue mast cells. This study demonstrates that rat mast cell tryptase, unlike tryptases in other species, is a soluble enzyme. It is stored in an active form and is absent from some mast cell subpopulations in mucosa, skin and lung. © 1998 Chapman & Hall