Unfixed freeze-dried and uncoated tissue sections of the mouse duodenum were suspended across a hole in a carbon planchet and analyzed in a scanning electron microscope fitted with energy-dispersive x-ray analytical equipment. Computer analysis of the x-ray spectra allowed elemental microanalysis of the nucleus, cytoplasm, and late anaphase-early telophase chromatin regions in the cryptal and villus enterocytes. Elemental concentrations (mmol/kg dry wt) were measured for Na, Mg, P, S, Cl, K, and Ca. None of the elements were compartmentalized preferentially in either the nucleus or the cytoplasm of interphase enterocytes of crypts or in postmitotic enterocytes of villi. In contrast, Ca, S, and Cl are detectable in significantly higher concentrations in mitotic chromatin of dividing enterocytes of the crypt as compared to surrounding mitotic cytoplasm, but Na, Mg, and P are in lower concentrations in the mitotic chromatin as compared to mitotic cytoplasm. Interphase enterocytes of crypts have higher concentrations of Mg, P, and K, and lower concentrations of Na than do postmitotic enterocytes of villi.

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