The Histochemical Journal

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 553–560 | Cite as

Lanthanum as an intracellular stain for electron microscopy

  • Thomas S. Leeson
  • Gary W. Higgs


Results obtained after the normal aldehyde fixation of duodenal enterocytes for electron microscopy have been compared with results obtained when 0.1% Malachite Green or 10mm lanthanum chloride had been added during aldehyde fixation. Sections were examined without further staining, and after counterstaining with lead citrate and uranyl acetate. In unstained sections, lanthanum-treated material showed improved contrast when compared to results from the other two methods. Also, after counterstaining, areas showing excellent contrast were much more frequent and more readily detected in the lanthanum-treated material. In the microvilli of enterocytes fixed in the presence of lanthanum, the plasmalemma-glycocalyx was defined more clearly and the results were more pleasing subjectively. When Malachite Green was present in the fixative, good contrast was observed more frequently than in routinely fixed tissues, but less often than in those treated with lanthanum. It is suggested that the addition of lanthanum chloride or Malachite Green to the fixative may prove useful in many ultrastructural studies.


Acetate Chloride Electron Microscopy Citrate Aldehyde 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bannister, L. H. (1972) Lanthanum as an intracellular stain.J. Microsc. 96, 413–9.Google Scholar
  2. Burton, K. P., Hagler, H. K., Templeton, G. H., Willerson, J. T. &Buja, L. M. (1977) Lanthanum probe studies of cellular pathophysiology induced by hypoxia in isolated cardiac muscle.J. clin. Invest. 60, 1289–302.Google Scholar
  3. Campbell, G. R., Uehara, Y. &Burnstock, G. (1974) Lanthanum nitrate in a smooth muscle membrane system.Z. Zellforsch. 147, 157–61.Google Scholar
  4. Devine, C. E., Somlyo, A. V. &Somlyo, A. P. (1972) Sarcoplasmic reticulum and excitation-contraction coupling in mammalian smooth muscles.J. Cell Biol. 52, 690–718.Google Scholar
  5. Forthomme, D. &Cantin, M. (1976) The retinal capillaries of the rat in deoxycorticosterone hypertension-an ultrastructural study with the diffusion tracer lanthanum.Am. J. Path. 85, 263–76.Google Scholar
  6. Goodenough, A. V. &Revel, J. P. (1970) A fine structural analysis of the intercellular junctions in the mouse liver.J. Cell Biol. 45, 272–90.Google Scholar
  7. Hodgson, B. J., Kidwai, A. M. &Daniel, E. E. (1972) Uptake of lanthanum by smooth muscle.Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 50, 730–3.Google Scholar
  8. Hull, B. E. &Staehelin, L. A. (1979) The terminal web. A reevaluation of its structure and function.J. Cell Biol. 81, 67–82.Google Scholar
  9. Humbert, W. (1978) Intracellular and intramitochondrial binding of lanthanum in dark degenerating midgut cells of a collembolan (insect).Histochemistry 59, 117–28.Google Scholar
  10. Knight, D. P. (1973) Tracers. InEncyclopedia of Microscopy and Microtechnique. (edited byGray, P.), pp. 568–571. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  11. Langer, G. A. &Frank, J. S. (1972) Lanthanum in heart cell culture.J. Cell Biol. 54, 441–55.Google Scholar
  12. Lessups, R. J. (1967) The removal by phospholipase C of a layer of La3+-staining material external to the cell membrane in embryonic chick cells.J. Cell Biol. 34, 173–83.Google Scholar
  13. Martinez-Palomo, A., Benitez, D. &Alanis, J. (1973) Selective deposition of lanthanum in mammalian cardiac cell membrane.J. Cell Biol. 58, 1–10.Google Scholar
  14. Palekar, M. S. &Sirsat, S. M. (1975) Lanthanum staining of cell surface and junctional complexes in normal and malignant human oral mucosa.J. Oral Pathol. 4, 231–43.Google Scholar
  15. Pourcho, R. G., Berstein, M. H. &Gould, S. F. (1978) Malachite green: applications in electron microscopy.Stain Technol. 53, 29–35.Google Scholar
  16. Quick, D. C. &Johnson, R. G. (1977) Gap junctions and rhombic particle arrays in planaria.J. Ultrastruct. Res. 60, 348–61.Google Scholar
  17. Revel, J. P. &Karnovsky, M. J. (1967) Hexagonal array of subunits in intercellular junctions of the mouse heart and liver.J. Cell Biol. 33, C7-C12.Google Scholar
  18. Strum, J. M. (1977) Lanthanum ‘staining’ of the lateral and basal membranes of the mitochondria-rich cell in toad bladder epithelium.J. Ultrastruct. Res. 59, 126–39.Google Scholar
  19. Weihe, E., Hartschuh, W., Metz, J. &Bruhl, U. (1977) The use of ionic lanthanum as a diffusion tracer and as a marker of calcium binding sites.Cell Tiss. Res. 178, 285–302.Google Scholar
  20. Weiss, G. B. (1974) Cellular pharmacology of lanthanum.Ann. Rev. Pharmacol. 14, 343–54.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas S. Leeson
    • 1
  • Gary W. Higgs
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations