Scanning Microscopy


Lesions developing in the gastric mucosa of the rat after exposure to different gastric damaging agents (100 mg/kg aspirin, and 70% or 100% ethanol) were assessed by scanning electron microscopy. The severity of the lesions was quantified according to morphological criteria. Modifications in the severity of these lesions induced by pretreatment with zinc acexamate were also analyzed. The scanning electron microscope revealed that with the exception of absolute ethanol, which caused distinctive morphological features, lesions found under the different experimental agents shared a common pattern of progression. Ultrastructural lesions on surface epithelial cells preceded further alterations of parietal cells. After the integrity of the epithelial cells was lost, detachment of the parietal cells occurred, probably, through peptic digestion of the connections between cells and their extracellular matrices. Pretreatment of animals with zinc acexamate increased the presence of mucus on the gastric surface and significantly prevented the progression of lesions towards the severest stages. Ultrastructural damage of surface epithelial cells was not influenced by this treatment, but detachment of damaged cells was clearly diminished. These data confirm the protective effect of zinc acexamate against gastric aggressions. Moreover, our studies confirm the notion that mucus secretion and maintenance of continuity on the gastric lumen by surface epithelial cells is of critical importance in preventing the gastric damage induced in these experimental models.

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