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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Ultrastructural radioautography and cytochemistry of lead absorption.

Lead is a universal environmental contaminant absorbed largely through the gastrointestinal tract by unknown mechanisms. Because lead absorption is influenced by iron content in the body and diet, we used ultrastructural radioautography and cytochemistry to study absorption of physiologic lead doses in the rat duodenal epithelial cell and compared these findings to those previously reported for iron absorption. Rat duodenal loops exposed in vivo to 210Pb for 1 minute demonstrated the majority of labels on the microvilli, terminal web, and apical cytoplasm. Specimens exposed to radiolead for 10 minutes demonstrated more abundant labeling with a relative increase in labeling of epithelial cell mitochondria, nuclei and basal cytoplasm, as well as phagocytic cells, endothelial cells, and circulating erythrocytes of the lamina propria. Timm's sulfide-silver method localized trace metals in epithelial cells. After administration of lead, a significant increase in staining was observed in microvilli, mitochondria, non-membrane-bound cytoplasm, and nuclear chromatin. The rapid appearance of absorbed lead in epithelial cell mitochondria and nuclei, as well as phagocytic cells in the lamina propria, was distinctly different from that reported for absorbed iron and suggests different mechanisms for the subcellular transport of these cations. The combination of radioautography and Timm's sulfide-silver staining provides the specificity and resolution needed for ultrastructural evaluation of lead absorption and should be useful in further studies of lead metabolism.[1]


  1. Ultrastructural radioautography and cytochemistry of lead absorption. Parmley, R.T., Barton, J.C., Conrad, M.E., Austin, R.L. Am. J. Pathol. (1979) [Pubmed]
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