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

Morphometric study of cardiac muscle: the problem of tissue shrinkage.

Comparison of data from morphometric studies dealing with the heart is complicated by the fact that little information dealing with cell size changes during tissue processing is available. To investigate these changes, isolated cardiac myocytes were adhered to glass cover slips of Sykes Moore chambers and photographed after each step of processing for transmission electron microscopy. Six different experiments with a minimum of 10 cells each were followed through the entire procedure after fixation with isoosmolar glutaraldehyde. Cellular dimension changes were determined by tracing individual isolated myocytes after each step of the procedure with a sonic digitizer. Significant cell volume changes occurred after osmium (16 per cent swelling), postosmium wash (10 per cent swelling), and uranyl acetate (25 per cent shrinkage). Hypertonic aldehyde solutions resulted in cellular shrinkage during fixation not found with isotonic solutions. Changes in cell cross-sectional area rather than length were largely responsible for altered cell volumes during any given phase of processing. The results indicate that, although cell volume changes occur during processing, final cell dimensions of embedded cells were not different from unfixed cells. In whole tissue blocks, inclusion of propylene oxide in the procedure resulted in tissue shrinkage which was not observed in isolated myocytes, suggesting that different tissue components react in a variable manner to propylene oxide. After each of the other steps in processing, tissue blocks reacted in a similar manner to the isolated myocytes.[1]


  1. Morphometric study of cardiac muscle: the problem of tissue shrinkage. Gerdes, A.M., Kriseman, J., Bishop, S.P. Lab. Invest. (1982) [Pubmed]
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