The influence of fixation on membrane permeability has been examined in the isolated rat heart using lanthanum as a permeability probe. Normal and ischaemic hearts were probed at various stages during a conventional fixation programme with either ionic or colloidal lanthanum and compared with lanthanum saline administered prior to fixation. Fixation of the myocardium coincident with or followed by lanthanum probing resulted in an influx of the probe into most myocytes in normal tissue. Alterations in permeability after ischaemic episodes could not be distinguished from this artefact. However, lanthanum saline prior to fixation showed exclusion of the probe from normal tissue, while the increased permeability demonstrated after ischaemia was associated with declining myocardial performance during subsequent reperfusion. These results illustrate the need for caution in the application and evaluation of methods determining permeability in fixed tissue. Probes of differing size and charge permeated fixed tissue to varying degrees thereby implicating the formation of specific lesions during chemical fixation. Copyright1990 WileyLiss, Inc.
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