Gastric mucosa, chief cells and parietal cells
This image shows a thin plastic section (i.e., embedded in plastic rather than paraffin and sliced at 2µm thickness vs. 5-6 µm for routine sections) of the stomach mucosa.
This preparation provides adequate resolution to identify easily both parietal cells (P) and chief cells (C) which occur in the middle portion of gastric glands.
Secretory vesicles (containing pepsinogen) are clearly visible in the apical cytoplasm of chief cells. Within the cytoplasm of parietal cells, relatively lightly-stained regions suggest the presence of intracellular canaliculi (into which acid is pumped).
This section does not include the lumen of the gastric gland to which these cells belong, but instead grazes obliquely through the secretory cells which comprise the wall of the gland. Apical ends of these cells are cut on the left side of the image, and basal ends cells are cut on the right.
The epithelial nature of gastric gland cells can be best appreciated when the cells are visualized in position between the glandular lumen and the underlying lamina propria. More commonly, as in the figure above, the plane of section passes tangentially or obliquely through the cells which comprise the wall of the gland. Thus, at low magnification, gastric glands often appear cord-like rather than tubular.
Contrast the thin-section appearance of these chief cells and parietal cells with that of other secretory epithelial cells in the gastric mucosa:
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Last updated: 8 February 2002 / dgk