The structure of the epithelial cells of the alimentary tract of Fasciola hepatica was investigated by means of light and electron microscopy. Tissue prepared for electron microscopy was fixed in 1 per cent osmium tetroxide, buffered with veronal to a pH of 7.4, and embedded in butyl methacrylate with 1 per cent benzoyl peroxide as a catalyst. Polymerisation was carried out at 60°C. The majority, if not all, the epithelial cells pass through both absorptive and secretory cycles. The free ends of absorptive cells possess fine protoplasmic processes that project into the lumen of the gut. These are apparently concerned with the absorption of nutriment. In electron micrographs, the protoplasmic (absorptive) processes are frequently seen to be in the form of tubular loops both ends of which arise from the same cell. The free end of a process is often expanded into a ribbon-like structure. Each process possesses an external limiting membrane and an internal membranous ultrastructure. When a cell becomes glandular in function, the protoplasmic processes seem to become less numerous. The plasma membrane is invaginated into the basal part of an absorptive cell. In the neighbourhood of the lumen of the gut where two tall cells are in contact, bands of amorphous cytoplasmic material are in contact with each cell membrane.

This content is only available as a PDF.