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The Cytology of the Normal Parathyroid Glands of Man and Virginia Deer: A Light and Electron Microscopic Study with Morphologic Evidence of Secretory Activity

Bryce L. Munger and Sanford I. Roth
The Journal of Cell Biology
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Feb., 1963), pp. 379-400
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1604073
Page Count: 22
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The Cytology of the Normal Parathyroid Glands of Man and Virginia Deer: A Light and Electron Microscopic Study with Morphologic Evidence of Secretory Activity
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Abstract

The normal parathyroids of six humans and a Virginia deer were studied by light and electron microscopy. The parenchyma of the deer parathyroid is composed of uniform chief cells, which contained 100 to 400 mμ electron-opaque, membrane-limited granules, presumed to be secretory granules, in addition to the usual cytoplasmic organelles. Desmosomes are present between adjacent cells, and rare cilia are observed protruding from the chief cells into the intercellular space. The human parathyroids contain chief cells in two phases--active and inactive--as well as oxyphil cells. Active chief cells have a large Golgi apparatus, sparse glycogen, numerous secretory granules, and rare cilia. Inactive chief cells contain a small Golgi apparatus, abundant glycogen, and few secretory granules. Both forms have the usual cytoplasmic organelles and, between adjacent cells, desmosomes. Oxyphil cell cytoplasm is composed of tightly packed mitochondria and glycogen granules, with rare secretory granules. Cells with cytoplasmic characteristics intermediate between chief and oxyphil cells, possibly representing transitional cells, have been observed. Secretory granules of both man and deer are composed of 100 to 200 A particles and short rods, and the granules develop from prosecretory granules in the Golgi region of the cell. The human secretory granules are smaller and more variable in shape than those of the deer. The granules are iron and chrome alum hematoxylin-positive, argyrophilic, and aldehyde fuchsin-positive, permitting light microscopic identification. They are also found in the capillary endothelial cells of the parathyroid and in its surrounding connective tissue. The secretory granules of the parathyroid cells can thus be followed from their formation in the Golgi apparatus almost to their extrusion into the blood stream.

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