Localization of acetylcholinesterase in dissociated cell cultures of the carotid body of the rat
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The localization of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) was investigated at the cellular and subcellular levels in dissociated cell cultures of the carotid body of the neonatal rat, prepared by the methods of Fishman and Schaffner (1984). In the presence of iso-OMPA, which blocks nonspecific cholinesterase, staining was confined almost exclusively to glomus-cell clusters and occasional isolated cells. These clusters grow as discrete islands scattered throughout the culture and display typical catecholamine (CA) fluorescence as in vivo. AChE staining was abolished or reduced by the cholinesterase inhibitors eserine (30-100 microM), or (the poorly lipid soluble) echothiophate (8 microM). Processing of the same culture sequentially for the demonstration of both AChE and CA revealed that glomus-cell clusters and individual glomus cells were consistently positive for both. In electron micrographs AChE reaction product was associated intracellularly with the nuclear envelope and cytoplasm of glomus cells (identified by their characteristic dense cored granules), as well as extracellularly with the boundaries of contiguous glomus cells. Significantly, reaction product occurred in some glomus cell profiles that had both dense-cored and clear (cholinergic-like) vesicles. These findings are discussed in the context of a possible dual (adrenergic/cholinergic) function status of glomus cells in the rat's carotid body.
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