Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 235, Issue 2, pp 225–241

Ciliated and microvillous structures of rat olfactory and nasal respiratory epithelia

A study using ultra-rapid cryo-fixation followed by freeze-substitution or freeze-etching
  • Bert Ph. M. Menco

DOI: 10.1007/BF00217846

Cite this article as:
Menco, B.P.M. Cell Tissue Res. (1984) 235: 225. doi:10.1007/BF00217846


The olfactory epithelium of the Sprague-Dawley rat showed structures which indicate that freeze-substitution after ultra-rapid cryo-fixation is a better method for its preservation than conventional fixation techniques. A new feature is that matrices of the distal parts of olfactory cilia range in their staining intensity from very dense to electron-lucent. Outlines of structures are smooth and membrane features can be clearly seen.

The textures of mucus from olfactory and respiratory epithelia are distinctly different after freeze-fracturing and deep-etching following cryo-fixation. Olfactory cilia show no microtubule-attached axonemal structures. Cross-sectional diameters are smaller after freeze-substitution than after freeze-fracturing.

Intramembranous particle densities are lower in nine regions of three cell types in cryo-fixed olfactory and respiratory epithelia than in those chemically fixed and cryoprotected. The fracture faces of membranes from etched, cryo-fixed cells have holes, a result which probably accounts for differences in particle density between cryo-fixed and chemically-fixed, cryo-protected cells. Particle diameters are usually the same using both methods. Densities of intramembranous particles and particles plus holes are highest in supporting cell processes, followed by endings and cilia of olfactory receptor cells, and are lowest in respiratory cilia. Particle densities at outer and inner surfaces are higher than those in either fracture face. Outer surfaces show a good correlation from region to region with densities summated over both fracture faces.

Key words

Cryo-techniques Olfactory and respiratory epithelia Cilia Microvilli Sprague-Dawley rat 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bert Ph. M. Menco
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurobiologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurobiology and PhysiologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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