Scanning Microscopy


The freeze-fracture, freeze-drying ( FFFD) method of biological bulk specimen preparation combined with quantitative X-ray microanalysis is suitable for the measurement of intracellular concentrations of biologically relevant elements in human biopsy or experimental animal materials. Especially useful information can be obtained regarding the intracellular Na+/K+ ratios being independent of the actual (and unknown) water content of the cytoplasm. The sustained increase of this ratio indicates a sustained depolarization of the cell membrane. These data are of importance from the point of view of the membrane hypothesis of mitogenesis (MHM). It has been revealed that the distribution histograms of the intracellular Na+/K+ ratio display a very significant broadening and an increase of the average values in human urogenital, thyroid and laryngeal tumors, as well as in experimentally induced cell proliferation models. Although MHM has been claimed to be invalid on the basis of some atomic absorption measurements of the intracellular monovalent ion concentrations as well as of some in vitro results obtained with amiloride, this review paper demonstrates that MHM may still be a valid hypothesis for the explanation of mitotic regulation.

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