Skip to main content

Immunohistochemical Study of Dark and Progenitor Carotid Body Cells: Artefacts or Real Subtypes?

Postmortem changes occurring in human carotid body were simulated on the Wistar rat model. It was shown that light, dark, and pyknotic (progenitor) subtypes of human carotid body cells are an artifact and cannot be used in clinical practice to study the characteristics of various human diseases. The differences between the control group of healthy individuals and individuals with the various pathologies are most likely due to the different levels of premortal hypoxia that the tissue had been exposed to. Moreover, widespread antigens used in practice were divided into 2 groups by their tolerance to autolysis: stable and unstable ones. This can be useful for the development of immunohistochemical test algorithms for the diagnostics on autopsy material.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Fung ML. Pathogenic roles of the carotid body inflammation in sleep apnea. Mediators Inflamm. 2014;2014. ID 354279. doi:

  2. 2.

    Jendzjowsky NG, Roy A, Barioni NO, Kelly MM, Green FHY, Wyatt CN, Pye RL, Tenorio-Lopes L, Wilson RJA. Preventing acute asthmatic symptoms by targeting a neuronal mechanism involving carotid body lysophosphatidic acid receptors. Nat. Commun. 2018;9(1). ID 4030. doi:

  3. 3.

    Kubo S, Ogata M, Kitamura O, Tsuda R, Orihara Y, Hirose W, Matsumoto H, Nakasono I. Immunohistological investigations of autopsied carotid bodies and their application to diagnosing strangulation. Int. J. Legal Med. 1994;106(6):281-284.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    McDonald DM, Mitchell RA. The innervation of glomus cells, ganglion cells and blood vessels in the rat carotid body: a quantitative ultrastructural analysis. J. Neurocytol. 1975;4(2):177-230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Narkiewicz K, Ratcliffe LE, Hart EC, Briant LJ, Chrostowska M, Wolf J, Szyndler A, Hering D, Abdala AP, Manghat N, Burchell AE, Durant C, Lobo MD, Sobotka PA, Patel NK, Leiter JC, Engelman ZJ, Nightingale AK, Paton JF. Unilateral carotid body resection in resistant hypertension: a safety and feasibility trial. JACC Basic Transl. Sci. 2016;1(5):313-324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Pallot DJ, Seker M, Abramovici A. Post-mortem changes in the normal rat carotid body: possible implications for human histopathology. Virchows Arch. A Pathol. Anat. Histopathol. 1992;420(1):31-35.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Paton JF, Sobotka PA, Fudim M, Engelman ZJ, Hart EC, Mc-Bryde FD, Abdala AP, Marina N, Gourine AV, Lobo M, Patel N, Burchell A, Ratcliffe L, Nightingale A. The carotid body as a therapeutic target for the treatment of sympathetically mediated diseases. Hypertension. 2013;61(1):5-13.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Pávai Z, Töro K, Keller E, Jung J. Morphometric investigation of carotid body in sudden infant death syndrome. Rom. J. Morphol. Embryol. 2005;46(2):93-97.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Schultz HD, Marcus NJ, Del Rio R. Role of the carotid body in the pathophysiology of heart failure. Curr. Hypertens. Rep. 2013;15(4):356-362.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Seker M, Pallot DJ, Habeck JO, Abramovici A. Postmortem changes in the human carotid body. Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. 1994;360:349-351.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Zak FG, Lawson W. The Paraganglionic Chemoreceptor System: Physiology, Pathology and Clinical Medicine. New York, 1982.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to D. A. Otlyga.

Additional information

Translated from Byulleten’ Eksperimental’noi Biologii i Meditsiny, Vol. 168, No. 12, pp. 772-777, December, 2019

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Otlyga, D.A., Junemann, O.A., Dzhalilova, D.S. et al. Immunohistochemical Study of Dark and Progenitor Carotid Body Cells: Artefacts or Real Subtypes?. Bull Exp Biol Med 168, 807–811 (2020).

Download citation

Key Words

  • carotid body
  • dark cells
  • progenitor cells
  • autolysis
  • immunohistochemistry