To clarify the exocytotic features in adrenal medullary aminergic cells, the authors observed rat adrenal medulla prepared by the TAGO method with transmission electron microscope. Rat adrenal medulla contains two types of aminergic cells, adrenergic and noradrenergic, as described. They were present as a group. In a single group both adrenergic and noradrenergic cells were present, but the same kind of cells showed the tendency forming small groups. Adrenergic cells were characterized with the granules having relatively electroluscent cores. These granules were relatively uniform in size, and the cores filled the granules with only thin halos. Noradrenergic cells were characterized with the granules of various size and forms. Most of the cores of these granules were generally more electron-dense than those of the adrenergic cells and only partly filled the granules without forming the halos. But, some granules were very similar in the shape and electron density as those of the adrenergic cells. Even empty-looking granules were present. Exocytotic figures with the classical omega figures were observed in both types of aminergic cells, but they were more frequent in adrenergic cells. These figures were mainly present along the plasma membranes toward the capillary. The excreted materials could be identified in the cleft of the omega figures. Apocrine-like secretory patterns but without cytoplasmic rims were identified in noradrenergic cells. Some vesicles, possibly formed from the cytoplsmic tubular systems were released. Some irregular lamellar structures of varying sizes were also observed. They looked like membranous structures sneaking through the plasma membranes. We could not, however, found any evidences of their involvement in exocytotic processes. These were present toward the capillaries and found only in the adrenergic cells. The authors conclude that the secretory processes in adrenal chromaffin cells may include not only the classical exocytotic processes but also the unusual direct secretions of granules or parts of cellular organelles. The membranous lamellar structures may indicate the remnants of excreted granules or functionally inactive excess membranes of the organelles removed from the cytoplasm.
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