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Microsc Res Tech. 1994 May 1;28(1):48-59.

Lamina lucida of basement membrane: an artefact.

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Department of Anatomy, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories.


In tissues prepared with chemical fixation followed by conventional dehydration, basement membranes have been observed to be laminated structures composed of a lamina lucida and lamina densa as well as a poorly limited transitional zone referred to as the pars fibroreticularis. Scattered attempts in the application of new techniques of tissue preparation such as cryofixation or freeze substitution for the study of the basement membrane structure have been made in recent years. From these studies, the possibility has arisen in which basement membranes are composed of only the lamina densa without a lamina lucida. In recent studies in this laboratory, the attempt was made to determine whether or not this lamina lucida is an artefact, and if so, which step in the conventional method of tissue preparation is responsible for its formation. Basement membranes from diverse sources in the mouse and rat including the testis, ductus epididymis, eye, thyroid, kidney, and skin, were observed after either cryofixation by slam freezing followed by freeze substitution, or aldehyde fixation followed by freeze substitution. The basement membranes after preservation with either of these two methods were composed of only the lamina densa with no lamina lucida. It indicates that an artefactual formation of the lamina lucida occurs during dehydration in conventional tissue preparation rather than during chemical fixation. In view of the well known superiority of freeze substitution over conventional dehydration, the lamina lucida of the basement membrane is likely to be an artefact. Therefore, it is concluded that the lamina lucida is an artefact formed during conventional tissue preparation, and in its original condition in the living state, the basement membrane is composed of a single layer made up of lamina densa material.

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