Carbonic anhydrase and neuronal enzymes in cultured glomus cells of the carotid body of the rat
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The cellular localization of carbonic anhydrase (CAH) in the carotid body of the rat was investigated by means of Hansson's cobalt-precipitation technique in cultures of dissociated cells. In both young (2-day-old) and old (77-day-old) cultures, the parenchymal glomus (type-I) cells were selectively stained by this technique, and in addition expressed tyrosine hydroxylase and neuron-specific enolase as revealed by immunofluorescence. Enzymic reaction product of CAH appeared to be predominantly intracellular since staining was more intense and occurred more rapidly following permeabilization of the cell membranes with Triton X-100; its formation was inhibited by the CAH-inhibitor acetazolamide (1-10 microM) or by increasing the pH from 5.8 to 7.5. Cryostat sections of the carotid bifurcation revealed intense CAH-reaction product in cell clusters of the carotid body, in a few cells of the nodose ganglion, and in red blood cells. Neuronal cell bodies of the petrosal ganglion and superior cervical ganglion (SCG) were largely non-reactive. The SCG is known to contain clusters of small intensely fluorescent (SIF) cells, which were also non-reactive when grown in dissociated cell culture. Thus, although glomus and SIF cells are often considered to be similar cell types, functional CAH-activity appears unique to glomus cells, and this may be important for the physiological response of the carotid body to certain chemosensory stimuli.