Membrane dynamics in the parotid acinar cell during regranulation: A stereological study following isoprenaline-induced secretion



Recently weaned male rabbits were injected either with 150 μg/kg isoprenaline in saline containing 0.01 M ascorbic acid or simply with the drug vehicle. Groups of drug-injected animals were killed at various time after injection. Parotid gland tissue samples from all animals were fixed, embedded and thin sectioned, and micrographs were prepared at standard magnification. Estimations of membrane areas of each membrane type in parotid acinar cells were made. It was found that in animals killed 2 hours after induced secretion apical area was larger than in controls. In animals killed at sucessively later times the apical area was progressively less. No elevation of any internal smooth membrane areas was ascertained at any sampling time, though the areas of rough endoplasmic reticulum in 2–12 hour samples were larger. It is suggested that excess apical membrane, though probably removed by interiorization, is afterwards disassembled inside the cell to create fresh macromolecular building units (protein molecules), perhaps after passing through the Golgi apparatus. This cryptic pool of building units can provide about 900 μm2 of secretion granule membrane per cell, the supply apparently being exhausted in the first eight hours after degranulation, whilst granule numbers are being increased. Thereafter, apparently, limited granule fusion occurs, so that ultimately the cellular complement of secretion granule membrane comes to enclose a greater volume of secretory product, though the average granule number per cell is smaller.