Scanning Microscopy


Cell cultures can be used to study ion transport processes. X-ray microanalysis of cell cultures at the cellular level gives interesting information that can complement electrophysiological and tracer studies. In this paper, methods for culturing and preparing a variety of epithelial and secretory cells (fibroblasts, insulinoma cells, bovine mammary epithelial cells, colon cancer cells) for X-ray microanalysis are presented. Results show that sometimes cell cultures are not homogeneous with respect to ion content or reaction to physiological stimuli. In colon cancer cell cultures, a "high K" and a "low K" cell subpopulation was found; these subpopulations also differed with respect to other elements. As examples of biological applications, chloride efflux was studied in fibroblasts and colon cancer cells, and strontium uptake in insulinoma cells. Chloride efflux from colon cancer cells is stimulated by cyclic AMP and vaso-active intestinal peptide (VIP), and can be inhibited by pretreatment of the cells with phorbol myristate acetate, which downregulates the cAMP-regulated chloride efflux mechanism.

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