Mast cell granules were examined by fully quantitative X-ray microanalysis of 20 cells in freeze-dried cryosections. The mast cells were situated mainly in the connective tissue of the thymic capsule of five adult male Carworth Sprague Europe rats. In addition 30 red blood cells were analysed from the same sections. Nineteen of the mast cells had granules rich in S and K. One cell had smaller granules, and in this cell the granules contained high [Ca] and [P] instead of high [S] and [K]. In the majority of cells (13) the S:K ratio was highly correlated and less than 2.2, whereas in the remaining six cells the individual granule ratios were very variable in any one cell and much higher. The mean granule [K] (994 +/− 57 mmol kg-1 dry wt) was about four times the mean cytoplasmic level of 227 +/− 81 mmol kg-1 dry wt. The existence of this difference in concentration between the granules and the cytoplasm suggests that the K in the granules must be bound. The relationship between the [K] and [S] is discussed with regard to the possible binding of heparin and amines in the granules.

This content is only available via PDF.