Ultrastructure of the preparative phase of cell death in the larval fat body of Drosophila melanogaster

Tissue Cell. 1984;16(2):237-50. doi: 10.1016/0040-8166(84)90047-8.


Progressive changes in the ultrastructure of the larval fat body of Drosophila melanogaster were studied during the third instar. In addition to electron microscopy, light microscopy and morphometric stereology were employed to evaluate the tissue at five 12-hr intervals: 48, 60, 72, 84, and 96 hr after hatching from the egg. Lipid and glycogen were found stored throughout the instar, whereas protein is stored in the form of cytoplasmic granules mainly during the final 24 hr. The cells increased in cross-sectional area, and there was a concomitant increase in the relative amounts of these substances. Based on morphological characteristics there were three types of protein granules which we called dense granules (D), heterogeneous granules (H), and autophagic vacuoles. The morphology, size range, time of appearance, and changes in frequency of these granules suggested that the H type arose from D granules, and that the autophagic vacuoles were derived from D and H types. Morphological evidence indicated D granules have the unusual characteristic of forming in the intercellular space before entering the cytoplasm.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / ultrastructure*
  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / analysis
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology*
  • Fat Body / analysis
  • Fat Body / ultrastructure*
  • Glycogen / analysis
  • Larva / anatomy & histology
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Lipids
  • Proteins
  • Glycogen