Scanning Microscopy


Elemental redistribution induced by insulin secretion, was investigated by electron and proton probe X-ray microanalysis. In particular, ion fluxes following immediately upon stimulation were studied. As the sensitivity of the electron probe was insufficient, the proton microprobe was employed. In order to see whether the cell is asymmetric with respect to Ca2+ influx, the cells were stimulated in the presence of Sr2+ (as a Ca2+ analog). Insulin-secreting cells (RINm5F cells and isolated mouse β-cells) were cultured on grids and shock-frozen at 2-30 seconds after stimulation. In a large number of cells, the major elements and and large fluxes were analyzed by the electron microprobe. In the proton microprobe, selected cells were analyzed and elemental maps were compared with electron micrographs of the same cells. The proton microprobe, but not the electron microprobe, could detect an influx of Sr in response to K+-stimulation for 2 seconds, in RINm5F-cells. No polarization of Sr2+ uptake in RINm5F-cells could be detected, and the β-cells did not respond to high K+ by uptake of Sr. Momentary stimulation of β-cells also resulted in a significant increase in Na, detected by the electron probe. Spreading of the β-cells on the substrate appears to influence the subcellular elemental distribution. Thus, the proton probe has potential to detect small changes in elements such as those occurring after short-time stimulation.

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