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Cancer. 1976 Nov;38(5):2042-56.

Angiomatosis retinae. An ultrastructural study and lipid analysis.

Abstract

A nonfamilial case of agiomatosis retinae (retinal hemangioblastoma) was studied by electron microscopy. In addition to the three major types of cells previously identified within the tumor (endothelial cells, pericytes, heavily lipidized stromal cells), fibrous astrocytes in different stages of lipidization were also found. The endothelial cells were fenestrated, providing the basis for the extravasated exudate that is characteristic of the tumor. The pericytes were completely surrounded by casement membranes and displayed no significant lipidization; in a cellular plaque of vasular tissue at the base of the lesion, however, some of the multilaminar pericytes showed evidence of early smooth muscle differentiation. The stromal cells contained abundant lipid vacuoles and a few organelles, and exhibited granular degeneration of cytoplasmic filaments between the lipid vacuoles. There was spotty basement membrane formation where the stromal cells abutted on the vascular elements. No interconversion could be demonstrated among the endothelial cells, pericytes, and stromal cells. A source for the stromal cells was discovered in the early lipisization of fibrous astrocytes. Analysis of the extracted lipid from the tumor by means of infrared spectroscopy, lipid chromatography, and x-ray diffraction disclosed that the lipid was mostly cholestrol stearate, a plasma lipid. It is suggested that in the retinal lesions the leaky (fenestrated) capillaries of the tumor allowed the passive imbibition of plasma lipid by the fibrous astrocytes, leading to their gradual transformation into the fully lipidized stromal cells.

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