Imaging elemental distribution and ion transport in cultured cells with ion microscopy

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Science  28 Jun 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4707, pp. 1543-1544
DOI: 10.1126/science.2990033


Both elemental distribution and ion transport in cultured cells have been imaged by ion microscopy. Morphological and chemical information was obtained with a spatial resolution of approximately 0.5 micron for sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium in freeze-fixed, cryofractured, and freeze-dried normal rat kidney cells and Chinese hamster ovary cells. Ion transport was successfully demonstrated by imaging Na+-K+ fluxes after the inhibition of Na+- and K+ -dependent adenosine triphosphatase with ouabain. This method allows measurements of elemental (isotopic) distribution to be related to cell morphology, thereby providing the means for studying ion distribution and ion transport under different physiological, pathological, and toxicological conditions in cell culture systems.