The Histochemical Journal

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 307–320 | Cite as

Storage granules of thyroid C cells in the dog: A cytochemical and ultrastructural study, in relation to the masked metachromasia reaction

  • M. Cecilia M. Rost
  • F. W. D. Rost


Masked metachromasia can be demonstrated in thyroid C cells, and other cells of the APUD series, by staining with a metachromatic basic dye after hydrolysis of suitably fixed tissue. The reaction is thought to be due to the presence of polypeptides with a high concentration of side-chain acidic group. Since most APUD cells possess storage granules, presumed to contain a polypeptide hormone, it has been assumed that the masked metachromasia reaction gives information concerning the contents of these granules. However, there has been an increasing suspicion that the reaction might actually be due to the membrane bounding these granules, rather than to the contents. We have examined, cytochemically and ultrastructurally, dog thyroid tissue which has been subjected to fixation and hydrolysis as in the usual method for masked metachromasia. We found that the membrane surrounding the C cell granules is removed by hydrolysis, confirming the hypothesis that the reaction is due to the contents (hormone and/or matrix) rather than to the mambrane. Tissues were fixed in an aqueous mixture containing glutaraldehyde (6.25% v/v), picric acid (three-quarters saturation) and sodium acetate (1% w/v) adjusted to pH7 with sodium hydroxide. This was found to be a very satisfactory fixative for electron microscopy Some morphological details of C cells were noted, such as the richness of desmosomes between C cells in this species, and frequent direct contact with the colloid.


Hydroxide Polypeptide Glutaraldehyde Cell Granule Acidic Group 
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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Cecilia M. Rost
    • 2
  • F. W. D. Rost
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistochemistryRoyal Postgraduate Medical SchoolLondonUK
  2. 2.Electron Microscope UnitInstituto de Anatomia Patológica, Faculdade de MedicinaLisbonPortugal

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