Three types of nonciliated secretory epithelial cells contribute material to the mucous lining of pulmonary airways: mucous cells, serous cells, and Clara cells. Extensive interspecies variation exists, especially between humans and laboratory mammals, with regard to occurrence, distribution, and granule content of these secretory cells. This study was designed to characterize one aspect of these differences in one species of nonhuman primate, the rhesus monkey. The complex carbohydrates of secretory granules present in the tracheal epithelium were characterized cytochemically. The tracheas of seven monkeys were fixed by airway infusion, processed, and embedded for both light and transmission electron microscopy. Histochemical stains including Alcian blue‐periodic acid Schiff, dialyzed iron, and high iron diamine‐Alcian blue were applied to serial methacrylate sections. The mucous cells were the predominant secretory cell type of the trachea and contained periodate‐reactive sulfated glycoconjugates. The mucous secretory granules, as resolved with the electron microscope, consisted of a mesh or matrix surrounding a biphasic core. The matrix was stained by all cytochemical reactions used, which included periodic acid‐thiocarbohydrazide‐silver proteinate, dialyzed iron, low iron diamine, and high iron diamine. The biphasic core also reacted with the four stains, but most intensely with high iron diamine. We conclude from this study that (1) the mucous secretory granule contains carbohydrate throughout all phases of the granule, (2) the mucous granule contains periodate‐reactive sulfated glycoconjugates, with sulfate esters concentrated in the core of the granule, and (3) the mucous granules of rhesus trachea morphologically and cytochemically resemble those described in human airways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)