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Transformation of Monocytes in Tissue Culture into Macrophages, Epithelioid Cells, and Multinucleated Giant Cells. An Electron Microscope Study

Jerry S. Sutton and Leon Weiss
The Journal of Cell Biology
Vol. 28, No. 2 (Feb., 1966), pp. 303-332
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1604882
Page Count: 30
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Transformation of Monocytes in Tissue Culture into Macrophages, Epithelioid Cells, and Multinucleated Giant Cells. An Electron Microscope Study
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Abstract

The sequential transformation of chicken monocytes into macrophages, epithelioid cells, and multinucleated giant cells in vitro was studied by electron microscopy after fixation and embedment in situ. The following changes occur. In the nucleus, margination of chromatin, evident in monocytes, decreases in later forms. Nucleoli become more complex and nuclear pores increase in number. In cytoplasm, a progressive increase in volume of the ectoplasm and endoplasm occurs in culture. Lysosomes increase in number and size prior to phagocytosis. During phagocytosis (most active from 1 to 3 days of culture) lysosome depletion occurs. Lysosomes are present in greatest number and show maximal structural variation in the epithelioid and young giant cells. Aging giant cells lose lysosomes. All stages possess variably large quantities of rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum and free ribosomes. The Golgi apparatus, small in monocytes, increases in size and complexity. Massive accumulations of lysosomes within the Golgi apparatus of macrophages and epithelioid cells suggest that lysosomes originate there. In giant cells, multiple Golgi regions occur, often ringing the nuclei. Monocytes and macrophages have few mitochondria. Mitochondria of epithelioid cells are larger, more numerous, and may have discontinuous outer membranes. Mitochondria are most numerous in giant cells where they increase with age and become polymorphous. Cytoplasmic filaments are approximately 50 to 60 A in diameter and of indeterminate length. They occur both singly and in bundles which touch cytoplasmic vesicles and mitochondria. Few filaments occur in monocytes and macrophages. A large increase in the number of filaments occurs in epithelioid cells, where filaments (90 to 100 A) surround the cytocentrum as a distinctive annular bundle often branching into the cytoplasm. The greatest concentration of filaments occurs in aged giant cells. Pseudopodia are always present. They are short and filiform in monocytes and giant cells, and broad, with abundant micropinocytotic vesicles, in macrophages and epithelioid cells. At every stage, the cell membrane contains dense cuplike structures. These may represent the membranous residue of lysosomes which have discharged to the outside, analogous to merocrine secretion. Contiguous epithelioid cells display elaborate cytoplasmic interdigitation. In places, the plasma membranes break down and epithelioid cells fuse to form giant cells.

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