The distribution of peroxisomes (microbodies) in the rat nephron was studied cytochemically, using glutaraldehyde- or formaldehyde-fixed tissue, by means of α-hydroxy acid oxidase activity in light microscopy or oxidation of 3,3'-diaminobenzidine (DAB) at pH 9 in both light and electron microscopy.The two cytochemical methods show peroxisomes to be nearly sperical particles found only in cells of the proximal convoluted tubule. Lysosomes were identified in the same or parallel sections, with ß-glycerophosphate or 5'-cytidylic acid as substrate. They are found in all cells of the nephron. These cytochemical methods visualize the two organelles for light microscopy; they also permit unequivocal differentiation of all kidney peroxisomes from lysosomes in electron micrographs. Peroxisomes are larger and more reactive in the cells of the pars descendens (P3 segment) of the proximal convolution, located in the outer medulla and medullary rays, than in the cells of the pars convoluta (P1 and P2 segments), situated in the cortex. In contrast, lysosomes are much smaller in the P3 segment and larger and more reactive in the P1 and P2 segments. In all cells of the proximal convolution, peroxisomes tend to be concentrated nearer the base of the cells than do lysosomes. Mitochondria in P3 cells also show low levels of DAB oxidation at pH 6, in contrast to those in P1 and P2 cells. The possibility is discussed that P3 cells possess an extramitochondrial means of oxidation in which peroxisome oxidases play an important role.

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