Video fluorescence microscopy as a tool for the study of cellular heterogeneity in epithelia

L. P. Brion, L. M. Satlin, G. J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The use of functional fluorescent dyes has allowed us to monitor intracellular pH in individually identified cells in renal epithelia. Using video microscopy we simultaneously measured the change in intracellular pH in several contiguous cells in response to various maneuvers. The video equipment included a silicon intensified target camera, a VHS videocassette recorder, a high resolution monochrome monitor, a video photometric analyzer and a 2-channel chart recorder. This equipment had a spatial resolution of 1 μm by light microscopy and a response time of less than 200 ms; it allowed us to perform double fluorescent labeling and obtain reliable measurements of intracellular pH, independent of gain, regardless of the location of the image on the screen. Using this video system we have shown that there is substantial heterogeneity in activity of H+/HCO3- transport pathways among adjacent cells in a monolayer of cells cultured from the rat renal inner medullary collecting duct. In isolated perfused rabbit renal cortical collecting dusts, video microscopy alowed us to show that there are two different types of intercalated cells: one that exhibits apical Cl-/HCO3- exchange and one that does not. Both show alkaline intracellular pH with respect to non-acid-base transporting epithelia. Video microscopy has several advantages over conventional microspectrophotometry. It provides rapid data acquisition along with increased sensitivity and the capacity for some subcellular analyses. One is able to analyze several individually identified cells during an experimental maneuver. The present video system was assembled for less than $15,000 and permits a more complete analysis of an epithelium than either single-cell photometry or spectrophotometric analysis of thousands of cells in suspension or monolayers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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