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Eur J Histochem. 2005 Jul-Sep;49(3):255-64.

Cytochemical properties of Botryllus schlosseri haemocytes: indications for morpho-functional characterisation.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Padova, Via U. Bassi 58/B, 35100 Padova, Italy. loriano.ballarin@unipd.it


In the present study, we carried out a detailed light microscopy investigation of the cytochemical properties of the haemocytes of the colonial ascidian Botryllus schlosseri, using new cytochemical stains and enzymatic markers, a panel of antibodies and lectins as probes to characterise Botryllus blood cells further. Results indicate that lymphocyte-like cells are circulating undifferentiated cells recognised by anti-CD34 antibody and there are at least two defined haemocyte differentiation pathways: i) phagocytes, represented by hyaline amoebocytes and macrophage-like cells, which share similar staining properties, the same hydrolytic enzyme content as well as the presence of detectable cytochrome-c-oxidase activity, recognition by anti-CD39 and Narcissus pseudonarcissus agglutinin; ii) cytotoxic cell line, represented by granular amoebocytes and morula cells which have vacuoles stained by Ehrlich's stain and Neutral Red; DOPA-containing protein are present inside morula cell vacuoles. Pigment cells and nephrocytes are involved in catabolite storage but their relationships with other cell types are less clear.

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