Korean J Ophthalmol > Volume 12(2); 1998 > Article
Korean Journal of Ophthalmology 1998;12(2):85-91.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3341/kjo.1998.12.2.85    Published online December 30, 1998.
Melanosomes of retinal pigment epithelium--distribution, shape, and acid phosphatase activity.
I T Kim, J B Choi
Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Taegu, Korea.
The distribution and shape of melanosomes of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and acid phosphatase activity in melanosomes were studied in rabbits. The rabbit eyes were observed using electron microscopy and enzyme cytochemical electron microscopy. The majority of melanosomes were located near the apical region of the RPE. Melanosomes in the RPE were classified as two shapes, elliptical and spherical or oval. Elliptical melanosomes were located parallel to the apical process and spherical or oval melanosomes were arranged vertically or obliquely to the apical process. We think that the distribution and shape of melanosomes contributes to the effective absorption and blocking of light coming from all directions. Almost all of the mature and immature melanosomes we identified showed positive in acid phosphatase reaction, indicating that melanosomes are commonly incorporated into the lysosomal system of the RPE. However, a few melanosomes showed negative in acid phosphatase reaction, suggesting that some melanosomes are stable and inert. The observed premelanosome showed negative reaction. Two types of melanosome-related complex granules were identified; melanosomes with a cortex of enzyme-reactive material (melanolysosome) and melanosomes with a cortex of lipofuscin (melanolipofuscin). These findings indicate tha a relationship between melanosomes and the lysosomal system of the RPE exists, and suggest that melanosomes may undergo modification or degradation in the cytoplasm. Also, the observation of a premelanosome and the positive acid phosphatase activity in mature and immature melanosomes indicates that melanosomes of the RPE may continue to be synthesized at a low rate in adult eyes.
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