Scanning Electron Microscopy


We studied two aspects of the human gastric mucosa: - the surface morphology of mucous cells, as viewed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM); - the glycosidic components of intracellular mucins, characterized by means of lectins. The latter were conjugated with fluorescein isothiocyanate and with colloidal gold-silver for the visualization of the reaction products in light microscopy (LM) and in SEM (backscattered mode) respectively.

The surface morphology of mucous cells appears to be correlated to the secretory state.In gastric ulcers we found a prevalence of non-secreting cells. A decrease in glycosidic receptors for fucose-binding lectin and galactose-(l-3)-N-acetyl-galactosamine-binding lectin was also observed. This suggests the presence of an impaired mucus secretion which may play a role in the pathogenesis of gastric ulcer. Spiral bacteria, supposed to be aetiologically related to peptic ulcer and gastritis, were easily detected by SEM. Intestinal metaplasia defined "complete" in LM showed surface morphology and glycosidic components different from those of true intestinal mucosa. This implies the necessity of taking into account also these parameters when classifying this lesion. The same applies to polyps.

Our data indicate that correlative SEM may contribute further information on the pathogenesis and pathology of gastric diseases.

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