Immunohistochemical methods were used for the detection of the amyloid P component in the microfibrils of two regions: the zonule of the eye and the connective tissue of the foot pad in 20- to 50-gm mice. Following fixation by immersion in 4% formaldehyde, the eyes and foot pads were embedded in paraffin, and sections were immunostained for light microscopy by using antiamyloid P component antiserum followed by peroxidase-antiperoxidase procedure. For electron microscopy, formaldehyde-fixed tissues were immunostained for the amyloid P component with protein A-gold by using either thin Lowicryl sections or frozen sections which were then embedded in Epon for thin sectioning.
In the zonule of the eye, the light microscope showed that zonular fibers were strongly immunostained for the amyloid P component; there was also weak staining of the nonpigmented ciliary epithelium at the distal end of the fibers and of the zonular lamella at their proximal end. The electron microscope revealed clear-cut immunolabeling of the microfibrils making up zonular fibers as well as of individual microfibrils. In the foot pad, the light microscope detected a weak diffuse staining of connective tissue, whereas the electron microscope showed immunolabeling restricted to microfibrils. It was concluded that the amyloid P component was present in, or associated with, microfibrils.
Purified amyloid P component was prepared and examined in the electron microscope after either negative staining or routine processing. After negative staining, it appeared as flat pentagonal units, frequently associated into columns. After routine processing, the units looked like cross sections of microfibrillar tubules. The dimensions of the units matched those of the hypothetical segments of the tubules. It was concluded that this tubule consisted of a column of amyloid P units. The cohesion of the units within the column was likely to be reinforced by the bands present at the surface of microfibrils.