Scanning Microscopy


The rationale for choosing the freeze-fracture freeze-drying (FFFD) method of biological bulk specimen preparation as well as the theoretical and practical problems of this method are treated. FFFD specimens are suitable for quantitative X-ray microanalysis of biologically relevant elements. Although the spatial resolution of this analytical technique is low, the application of properly selected bulk standard crystals as well as the measurement of the intracellular water and dry mass content by means of another method developed in the same laboratory, allow us to obtain useful information about the age-dependent changes of ionic composition in the main intracellular compartments. The paper summarizes the problems with regard to specimen preparation, beam penetration and the quantitative analysis of FFFD specimens. The method has been applied so far mainly for the analysis of intranuclear and intracytoplasmic concentrations of Na, Cl and K in various types of cells and has resulted in a significant contribution to our understanding of the cellular mechanisms of aging.

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