The Histochemical Journal

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 173–186 | Cite as

Comparison of kinetic and end-point microdensitometry for the direct quantitative histochemical assessment of cytochrome oxidase activity

  • Bryan Ballantyne
  • J. E. Bright


Cytochrome oxidase activity has been assessed by a method of kinetic microdensitometry which involves applying tissue sections to gel films containing phenylamine substrates and measuring the rate of azine dye production by continuously recording the rate of change in extinction. Optimum conditions for the technique were defined, and the results compared with those obtained by conventional end-point microdensitometry in which sections are incubated in histochemical substrate solutions and azine dye production estimated by a single measurement of extinction at the end of the incubation period. When compared with biochemically-determined enzyme activity, kinetic microdensitometry gave a better index of the proportionate activity of cytochrome oxidase in various normal tissues than did end-point microdensitometry. In addition, the degree of inhibition of cytochrome oxidase activity in tissues removed from cyanide-poisoned animals was assessed more reliably by kinetic microdensitometry than by end-point measurements. With end-point microdensitometry, the reaction is non-linear over the comparatively long incubation times required and there is also a spontaneous reactivation of cyanide-inhibited cytochrome oxidase during incubation and thus a progressively increased rate of substrate utilization. In contrast, with kinetic microdensitometry the initial linear reaction rate is measured before significant reactivation occurs. Kinetic microdensitometry can be used for direct dynamic quantitation of enzyme activity in tissues or cells; it may be a valuable technique for quantitative histochemical confirmation or extension of biochemical studies; and it appears to be a reliable direct quantitative histochemical method for investigatingin vivo inhibition of enzyme activity, where spontaneous reactivation of the enzyme-inhibitor complex may occur.


Phenylamine Biochemical Study Cytochrome Oxidase Substrate Solution Substrate Utilization 
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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryan Ballantyne
    • 1
  • J. E. Bright
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical DivisionChemical Defence EstablishmentPorton DownUK

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