In the present study a histochemical method demonstrating the activity of dehydrogenase systems was developed for electron microscopy, utilizing potassium tellurite as the hydrogen or electron acceptor. This reagent was used intravitally (intravenously, intraperitoneally, or intraluminally in hollow organs) or supravitally on small blocks of tissue for the demonstration of endogenous dehydrogenase activity. Blocks of tissue which had been frozen and thawed or which had been washed in 0.44 M sucrose to prevent endogenous activity, were used to demonstrate the activity of the succinic dehydrogenase system. In the latter case, the incubating medium contained tellurite, succinate, phosphate buffer, sucrose, and activators. The incubation was as performed either aerobically (with or without the addition of potassium cyanide) or anaerobically. The specificity and the enzymatic nature of the reactions were ascertained by appropriate control experiments.
Reduced tellurite, the end product of this histochemical reaction, could be visualized in thin sections of osmium tetroxide-fixed, methacrylate-embedded tissues as crystals or fine particulate deposits of high density, localized on, or in close relationship to mitochondrial membranes. The results of these experiments are demonstrated, utilizing heart muscle (rat) as the source of the enzyme systems.