Two types of glomus cell in the rat carotid body as revealed by α-bungarotoxin binding

Research paper by I. -Li Chen, Robert D. Yates

Indexed on: 01 Apr '84Published on: 01 Apr '84Published in: Journal of neurocytology


Horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-conjugated α-bungarotoxin (αBgt) was used to localize αBgt-acetylcholine receptor sites in the rat carotid body. Two types of glomus cell were differentiated on the basis of the staining of their plasma membranes by the conjugate: type A, devoid of staining or only partly stained; and type B, exhibiting staining over the entire cell surface. The parts of type A glomus and supporting cells stained were always in direct apposition to type B glomus cells. It is concluded that type B glomus cells are possibly the only cell types exhibiting specific binding sites of αBgt. Other morphological characteristics and quantitative studies indicated that the type A and type B glomus cells presented in this study were equivalent to those described in the rat carotid body by other investigators (McDonald & Mitchell, 1975). αBgt-HRP staining facilitated the observation of the distribution pattern of glomus cells in the parenchyma: type A glomus cells were arranged in groups and often showed polarity toward neural elements and sinusoidal capillaries; and clusters of type B glomus cells were frequently situated in a demilune-like fashion over groups of type A glomus cells. Because of differences in morphology, synaptology, αBgt-binding affinity, and polarity toward the blood vessels, we propose that type A and type B glomus cells in the rat carotid body represent functionally distinct cell types.