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Phagocytosis and digestion of collagen by gingival fibroblasts in vivo a study of serial sections






Journal of Ultrastructure Research 77(1): 1-36

Phagocytosis and digestion of collagen by gingival fibroblasts in vivo a study of serial sections

Serial sections and reconstructions of fibroblasts in rat attached gingiva that exhibited collagen fibrils in their cytoplasm were examined. The tissue was prepared by routine methods, stained with ruthenium red or reacted to demonstrate activity of acid trimetaphosphatase. The fibroblasts were interpreted as having phagocytosed the collagen for a number of reasons which include: the previous demonstration that fibroblasts cultured in vitro can phagocytose exogenous collagen; the observation here that fibroblasts can apparently bend and cleave extracellular collagen fibrils to produce segments that resemble collagen fibrils contained in membrane-bound endosomes shown in serial sections to be wholly intercellular; that collagen-containing profiles communicating with the extracellular substance may have many features in common with collagen-containing profiles that are wholly intracellular and because some collagen fibrils in both of these types of profiles show signs of digestion. Intracellular digestion of collagen profiles appeared to occur in 2 different ways, in electron-lucent profiles in which the fibrils lost their form and banding and were reduced to ghosts and the other in electron-dense profiles resembling lysosomes. Ruthenium red-positive material could be phagocytosed with the collagen. It appeared from the examination of the reconstructions that gingival fibroblasts can phagocytose segments cleaved from small numbers of collagen fibrils or, alternatively, from large bundles of collagen fibrils. In the latter case, the fibrils may subsequently be subdivided for digestion into small membrane-bound endosomes containing segments of relatively few collagen fibrils.

Accession: 006092523

PMID: 7299906

DOI: 10.1016/s0022-5320(81)80064-0

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Related references

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