Scanning Electron Microscopy


Age dependence of the intracellular concentrations of monovalent ions (Na+, K+ and Cl-) was examined in 1, 11 and 25-month-old rat brain and liver cells by using energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis. The in vivo concentrations of Na+, K+ and Cl- ions were calculated from two different measurements: The elemental concentrations were measured in freeze-dried tissue pieces, and the intracellular water content was determined by means of a recently developed X-ray microanalytic method, using frozen-hydrated and fractured bulk specimens as well as subsequent freeze-drying.

All the single monovalent ion concentrations and consequently, also the total monovalent ion content showed statistically significant increases during aging in brain cortical neurons. A 3-6% loss of the intracellular water content was accompanied by a 25-45% increase of the monovalent ionic strengths by the age of 25 months.

A membrane protective OH radical scavenger (centrophenoxine) reversed the dehydration in the nerve cells of old animals, resulting in a decrease of the intracellular ion concentrations.

Aging has a less prominent effect on the water and ion contents of the hepatocytes. The degree of water loss of cytoplasm exceeds that of the nuclei in the liver, suggesting that dominantly the translational steps can be involved in the general age altered slowing down of the protein synthetic machinery, predicted by the membrane hypothesis of aging (Zs.- Nagy, 1978).

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