Catalase-negative peroxisomes in human embryonic liver
Abstract Hepatic peroxisomes in human embryos with a menstrual age of 6 and 7 weeks have been examined via catalase cytochemistry. In the younger sample, the organelles show no catalase activity, their matrix being pale and coarsely reticular. In the 7-week specimen, the peroxisome population consists of catalase-positive and catalase-negative organelles. The latter have a morphology identical to that of the 6-week sample and represent 66% of the population. The positive organelles show a pronounced staining hetereogeneity. Together with the simultaneous presence of negative organelles, this might reflect the onset of catalase import into the peroxisomes during this period. Catalase heterogeneity excludes a continuous exchange of matrix contents; moreover, interconnections between peroxisomes have not been observed, and no cluster formation occurs. The data therefore also suggest that catalase is imported into individual, preexisting organelles in embryonic liver. The three peroxisomal &bgr;-oxidation enzymes become detectable by immunocytochemistry only later during development. Morphological indications for a rapidly dividing population, such as elongated and/or tailed organelles, have not been observed. Morphometry has revealed that, in these early stages, the organelles are significantly smaller than the peroxisomes of fetal and adult human liver.
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