Cytochemistry

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cytochemistry

[¦sīd·ō′kem·ə·strē]
(cell and molecular biology)
The science concerned with the chemistry of cells and cell components, primarily with the location of chemical constituents and enzymes.

Cytochemistry

 

a branch of cytology that studies the chemistry of cell structures and the location of chemical compounds within a cell and their transformations in connection with the functioning of the cell and its individual components.

Cytochemistry arose in the 1820’s chiefly owing to the research of the French botanist F. V. Raspail, who summarized his ideas on cytochemistry in his work Essaie de chimie microscopique appliquée à la physiologie (1830). Staining techniques were subsequently developed to observe carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, mineral compounds, and lipids under the microscope. The introduction of the use of aniline dyes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to major advances in cytochemistry. The principal approach in cytochemistry involves conducting appropriate chemical reactions in histological specimens and then evaluating them under a microscope. The evaluation may be qualitative (visual) or quantitative, using cytophotometry, autoradiography, and other methods.

The use of electron microscopy and immunochemical techniques in cytochemistry has been developing rapidly in recent years. Also used are microchemical methods, which make it possible to excise and examine individual cells, and centrifugation, which makes it possible to obtain tissue fractions abounding in certain types of cells or subcellular structures, such as nuclei, mitochondria, microsomes, and cytoplasmic membranes.

The main achievements of cytochemistry include the demonstration of the constant quantity of the DNA in the chromosome set, as well as the demonstration of the participation of macro-molecules (nucleic acids and proteins) in the specific functional activity of the cell and their migration within the cell from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and from the cell body to the outgrowths and back.

REFERENCES

Pearse, A. G. E. Gistokhimiia teoreticheskaia i prikladnaia. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)
Vvedenie v kolichestvennuiu tsitokhimiiu. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)

L. Z. PEVZNER

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