Endothelial attachment and plasmalemmal apposition in the transcellular movement of intravascular leukemic cells entering the myeloid parenchyma

Am J Anat. 1989 Oct;186(2):115-26. doi: 10.1002/aja.1001860202.


The plasmalemmal relationship between metastases-forming leukemia cells and myeloid sinus endothelium during the transmural passage of the leukemia cells has been studied in rat bone marrow. After the myeloid vascular system was freed from normal circulating blood cells, the bone marrow was perfused with a suspension of leukemia cells derived from an ascites tumor. The bone marrow was then fixed by perfusion with double aldehyde with and without the addition of tannic acid. Leukemia cells were seen adhering to the adluminal aspect of the sinus endothelium and in all stages of endothelial penetration. The penetration of the sinus wall was independent of endothelial junctions; i.e., the transmural passage into the myeloid parenchyma was transcellular. At these sites, there were restricted areas of close plasmalemmal appositions of the two cell types where the intraplasmalemmal space was reduced to 2.3 nm. This space was interrupted by electron densities of 5 nm diameter and spaced 9 nm center to center. These close plasmalemmal appositions extended over distances ranging from 150 nm to 200 nm. It is suggested on the basis of the structural similarity that these heptalaminar complexes of close plasmalemmal apposition represent the structural equivalent of gap junctions and may be sites of intercellular communication requisite for transmural passage. When tannic acid was added to the fixative, there were extended areas of apparent fusion of the plasmalemmas of the two cell types, at the sites both of adhesion and of endothelial penetration. This fusion was limited to the outer leaflets of the two plasmalemmas, resulting in a single pentalaminar complex. These pentalaminar complexes extended over decidedly longer distances than the presumed gap junctions seen in the nontannic-acid-fixed material. The tannic acid material did not show the heptalaminar gap junction type of plasmalemmal apposition. It is believed likely that the tannic-acid-induced pentalaminar complexes may incorporate the smaller heptalaminar ones. The factors underlying the plasmalemmal configurational differences between the tannic acid and non-tannic-acid material remain undetermined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Bone Marrow / ultrastructure*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Endothelium / pathology
  • Endothelium / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Hydrolyzable Tannins / pharmacology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / metabolism
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Perfusion
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred WF
  • Time Factors


  • Hydrolyzable Tannins