Katarina Košmelj, Anton Cedilnik, Peter Veranič, Gregor Zupančič, Marjan Rupnik, Laura Kocmur-Bobanović, Robert Zorec


Using electron microscopy, we studied the morphology of secretory granules in rat pars intermedia cells. We found figures of apparent intergranule fusion, characterized by a tight association of two granules. The fusion was detected in around 2% of all measured granules, indicating a low occurrence of intergranule fusion. To study whether intergranule fusion affects the distribution of granule diameters a simple probabilistic model was developed. It is based on the theory that larger granules are formed by fusion of two or more spherical granules of fixed size, and that the surface of a newly formed granule is equal to the sum of fused granule membranes. The model accounts for the bias on granule diameter measurements due to sectioning of granules. Although the electron microscopy data strongly indicates the existence of intergranule fusion in rat melanotrophs, this process as modelled in the present work does not contribute to the granule diameter distribution significantly. It is likely that in addition to the fusion of larger granules, other processes, such as fusion of microvesicles, may affect the distribution of granule diameters.

intergranule fusion; melanotrophs; probabilistic model; rat; secretory granules; stereology

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DOI: 10.5566/ias.v20.p79-85

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Image Analysis & Stereology
EISSN 1854-5165 (Electronic version)
ISSN 1580-3139 (Printed version)