Ultrastructural histometric evidence for expansion of the sustentacular cell envelope in response to hypersecretion of adrenal chromaffin cells in mice

Anat Sci Int. 2018 Jan;93(1):75-81. doi: 10.1007/s12565-016-0370-x. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


In our previous immuno-light microscopic study with an antibody for fatty acid binding protein of type 7 or brain type (FABP-7, B-FABP), the adrenomedullary sustentacular cells were revealed to have secondary processes that present faint immunostaining and an ill-defined sheet-like appearance, in addition to the well-recognized primary processes that present distinct immunostaining and a fibrous appearance. The secondary processes were regarded as corresponding to known ultrastructural profiles of sustentacular cells with a thickness of less than 0.2 µm (the resolution limit of light microscopy), and the processes were considered to be largely responsible for enveloping chromaffin cells. Due to those findings, the present immuno-electron microscopic study was performed to determine whether the secondary processes change the extent of their envelope for chromaffin cells under the intense secretion induced by water immersion-restraint stress. To achieve this, we focused on immunopositive ultrastructural profiles with a thickness of less than 0.2 µm. The measured lengths of the immunopositive profiles in the specimens from stressed mice were found to be significantly larger than those in specimens from normal mice, indicating an increase in the extent of the envelope of the sheet-like processes for the chromaffin cells. Thus, confining our measurements to the secondary process profiles, not the entire cell profiles, proved to be a key factor in the detection-for the first time-of the change in size of the sustentacular cell envelope upon changes in the secretory activity of enveloped chromaffin cells. The possible functional significance of this change in size is discussed here.

Keywords: Chromaffin cell hypersecretion; FABP-7; Histometry; Sustentacular cell; Ultrastructure.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Medulla / cytology*
  • Animals
  • Chromaffin Cells / cytology*
  • Chromaffin Cells / metabolism*
  • Chromaffin Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Protein 7
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Nuclear Envelope / pathology*
  • Nuclear Envelope / ultrastructure*


  • Fatty Acid-Binding Protein 7