A method for analyzing individual mammalian cells with electron probe microanalysis has been developed using human diploid fibroblasts. Cells were grown on the same support that is used for experimental manipulations and analysis. Steady-state cation and anion concentrations and kinetic processes during experimental perturbations could be measured on populations of less than 1,000 cells. Human diploid fibroblasts in normal tissue culture medium had the following intracellular concentrations (in mM): K, 168; Na, 25.0; Cl, 51.2; P, 84.1; S, 16.5; Ca, 6.04; and Mg, 10.0. The ratios of K to Na were equivalent when measured in the nuclear or cytoplasmic area of the cells. Serum in the incubation medium was found to increase the cellular effective permeability to Na by a factor of 2.5, while leaving the effective permeability to K unchanged. When returned to control medium after 7 h of incubation in K-free medium, the cells recovered normal K/Na in less than 1 h. In some experiments the coupling ratio of the ouabain-inhibitable cellular transport of Na to K was 3:2 and the ratio of Cl to K was 1:2. The sum of intracellular content (Na + K) (an estimate of cellular volume) did not change when the cells were placed in K-free medium and increased by less than 30% after ouabain treatment. After 5-7 h of ouabain treatment or of incubation in K-free medium, long after the intracellular K had been replaced by Na, the cellular chloride content had not changed significantly.
- Copyright © 1985 the American Physiological Society