Virchows Archiv A

, Volume 395, Issue 2, pp 133–144 | Cite as

Endothelium and “silver lines”

An electron microscopic study
  • Thomas Zand
  • Jean M. Underwood
  • John J. Nunnari
  • Guido Majno
  • Isabelle Joris
Original Articles


The significance of endothelial “silver lines” was studied by TEM in rat aortas after perfusion with glutaraldehyde followed by silver nitrate. Standard TEM technique proved unsatisfactory (coarse silver granules, imprecise localization, artefacts). Exposure of the silver-treated aortas to photographic fixer markedly improved the image of the deposits leaving fine, stable, uniform “residual granules” about 100 Å in diameter. Most of these granules were localized along the intercellular junctions; they also tended to pool in the basement membrane beneath each junction. This image suggests that the Ag+ ions pass through the junction, and react with its contents as well as with the basement membrane beyond it. A scheme is proposed to explain the reaction of Ag+ ions with anions and negatively charged radicals within the junction. It is concluded that the “silver lines” represent not only a histochemical effect, but also the visualization of a transendothelial electrolyte pathway.

Key words

Endothelium Permeability Electron microscopy Electrolytes Silver 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Achard C, Aynaud M (1907) Recherches sur l'imprégnation histologique de l'endothélium. Arch Méd Exp 19:437–458Google Scholar
  2. Arnold J (1875) Über das Verhalten der Wandungen der Blutgefässe bei der Emigration weisser Blutkörper. Virchows Arch 62:587–503Google Scholar
  3. Arnold J (1876) Über die Kittsubstanz der Endothelien. Virchows Arch 66:77–108Google Scholar
  4. Behnke O, Zelander T (1970) Preservation of intercellular substances by the cationic dye alcian blue in preparative procedures for electron microscopy. J Ultrastruct Res 31:424–438Google Scholar
  5. Caufield JP, Farquhar MG (1976) Distribution of anionic sites in glomerular basement membranes: Their possible role in filtration and attachment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 73:1646–1650Google Scholar
  6. Cavallo T, Graves K, Granholm NA (1980) Endothelial and perivascular anionic sites during immediate transient vascular leakage. Virchows Arch [pathol Histol] 388:1–12Google Scholar
  7. Chrzonsczewsky N (1866) Über die feinere Struktur der Blutcapillaren. Virchows Arch 35:169–173Google Scholar
  8. De Bruyn PPH, Michelson S (1979) Changes in the random distribution of sialic acid at the surface of the myeloid sinusoidal endothelium resulting from the presence of diaphragmed fenestrae. J Cell Biol 82:708–714Google Scholar
  9. De Bruyn PPH, Michelson S, Becker RP (1978) Nonrandom distribution of sialic acid over the cell surface of bristle-coated endocytic vesicles of the sinusoidal endothelium cells. J Cell Biol 78:379–389Google Scholar
  10. Florey HW, Poole JCF, Meek GA (1959) Endothelial cells and “cement” lines. J Pathol Bacteriol 17:625–636Google Scholar
  11. Gottlob R, Hoff HF (1968) Histochemical investigations on the nature of large blood vessel endothelial and medial argyrophilic lines and on the mechanism of silver staining. Histochemie 13:70–83Google Scholar
  12. Hayat HA (1975) Positive staining for electron microscopy. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, pp 124–147Google Scholar
  13. Hoffstein S, Genuaro DE, Fox AC, Hirsch J, Streuli F, Weissmann G (1975) Colloidal lanthanum as a marker for impaired plasma membrane permeability in ischemic dog myocardium. Am J Pathol 79:207–214Google Scholar
  14. Hüttner I, Boutet M, More RH (1973) Studies on protein passage through arterial endothelium. I. Structural correlates on permeability in rat arterial endothelium. Lab Invest 28:672–677Google Scholar
  15. Kanwar YS, Farquhar MG (1979a) Presence of heparan sulfate in the glomerular basement membrane. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 76:1303–1307Google Scholar
  16. Kanwar YS, Farquhar MG (1979b) Anionic sites in the glomerular basement membrane. In vivo and in vitro localization to the laminae rarae by cationic probes. J Cell Biol 81:137–153Google Scholar
  17. Pelikan P, Gimbrone MA, Cotran RS (1979) Distribution and movement of anionic cell surface sites in cultured human vascular endothelial cells. Atherosclerosis 32:69–80Google Scholar
  18. Recklinghausen F von (1860) Eine Methode, mikroskopische hohle und solide Gebilde voneinander zu unterscheiden. Virchows Arch 19:451Google Scholar
  19. Recklinghausen F von (1863a) Zur Fettresorption. Virchows Arch 26:172–208Google Scholar
  20. Recklinghausen F von (1863b) Zur Geschichte der Versilberungsmethode. Virchows Arch 27:419–421Google Scholar
  21. Sawyer PN, Stanczewsky B, Ramsey WS, Ramasamy N, Srinivasan S (1973) Electrochemical interactions at the endothelial surface. J Supramolec Struct 1:417–436Google Scholar
  22. Shea SM (1971) Lanthanum staining of the surface coat of cells. J Cell Biol 51:611–620Google Scholar
  23. Simionescu N (1979) The microvascular endothelium: segmental differentiations; transcytosis; selective distribution of anionic sites. In: Weissmann G (ed) Advances in inflammation research. Vol 1. Raven Press, New York, pp 61–70Google Scholar
  24. Simionescu N, Simionescu M (1978) Differential distribution of anionic sites on the capillary endothelium. J Cell Biol 79:59aGoogle Scholar
  25. Sinapius D (1956) Über Grundlagen und Bedeutung der Vorversilberung und verwandter Methoden nach Untersuchung am Aortenendothel. Z Zellforsch 44:27–56Google Scholar
  26. Skutelsky E, Danon D (1976) Redistribution of surface anionic sites on the luminal front of blood vessel endothelium after interaction with polycationic ligand. J Cell Biol 71:232–241Google Scholar
  27. Skutelsky E, Rudich Z, Danon D (1975) Surface charge properties of the luminal front of blood vessel walls: An electron microscopical analysis. Thromb Res 7:623–634Google Scholar
  28. Stadtmüller F (1921) Historische Darstellung zur Deutung des Wesens der Silbermethode an nicht fixierten Objekten. Anat Hefte 59:79–210Google Scholar
  29. Weast RC, Astle MJ (eds) (1980) Handbook of chemistry and physics. 61st edn, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp F-216Google Scholar
  30. Zeiger K (1938) Metallimprägnationen. Vor- und Nachversilberung. In: Liesegang RE (ed). Physikochemische Grundlagen der histologischen Methodik. Wissenschaftliche Forschungsberichte, Naturwissenschaftliche Reihe, Vol 48. Verlag T Steinkopff, Dresden, Leipzig, pp 113–134Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Zand
    • 1
  • Jean M. Underwood
    • 1
  • John J. Nunnari
    • 1
  • Guido Majno
    • 1
  • Isabelle Joris
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

Personalised recommendations