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Comparative Study
. 1984 Aug;32(8):827-33.
doi: 10.1177/32.8.6747274.

Differences in Basement Membrane-Associated Microdomains of Type I and Type II Pneumocytes in the Rat and Rabbit Lung

Comparative Study

Differences in Basement Membrane-Associated Microdomains of Type I and Type II Pneumocytes in the Rat and Rabbit Lung

P L Sannes. J Histochem Cytochem. .

Abstract

The basement membrane-associated microdomains of type I pneumocytes in rat and rabbit pulmonary alveoli were found to be uniquely different from those of type II pneumocytes in the specific distribution of cytochemically detectable sulfate esters as demonstrated with the high iron diamine (HID) technique at the electron microscopic level. Aldehyde-fixed frozen or Vibratome sections of neonatal and adult lungs were treated with a mixture of the meta and para isomers of N,N-dimethyl-phenylenediamine-HCl in the presence of ferric chloride, which at low pH (1.0) has been previously shown to be highly specific for sulfate esters of glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins. Reaction product was subsequently enhanced with a thiocarbohydrazide-silver proteinate, postembedding sequence for electron microscopy. Samples of lung parenchyma treated in this fashion were observed to have discrete, electron-dense silver grains associated with the various microanatomical components of pulmonary basement membranes. In the region of the alveolar basement membrane, the lamina rara externa associated with type I cells was observed to contain an abundance of regularly disposed, cytochemically detectable sulfate esters, while the lamina densa and lamina rara interna were diffusely and sparsely reactive by comparison. Quantitatively, 62% of all reactive sites found in the basement membrane region of type I cells were localized in the lamina rara externa. By contrast, the lamina rara externa of type II cells had less than half as many reactive foci indicative of sulfate esters as the same region of type I cell basement membranes. HID-reactive sulfate esters were found evenly distributed within the laminae associated with the basement membrane of type II cells. This cytochemically detectable difference in the sulfate ester composition of basement membrane-associated sulfate ester composition of basement membrane-associated microdomains of type I compared with that of type II pneumocytes may be highly significant when considering known patterns of epithelial renewal in pulmonary alveoli. Since type II cells are known to divide and either remain type II cells or differentiate into type I cells, regional differences in the molecular composition of the alveolar basement membranes and their associated structures may be key determinants of cell-specific processes of cytodifferentiation in the pulmonary alveolus.

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