Caught in the act: an anaphase adult neurone
This is a picture of a neurone in mitosis near to the bile duct mucosa in the hilum of a liver re-transplanted 240 days after the initial liver transplant. The organ donor was a 22 year old man and the recipient was a 26 year old woman. The picture is of a neurone specific enolase immunostained section (counterstained with haematoxylin). The neurone also showed immunostaining for PGP 9.5, neurofilament protein, proliferative cell nuclear antigen, and image analysis of a Fuelgin stained section showed that the neuronal chromatin amounted to 4n. The case illustrates that histological preparations, which are often misrepresented as merely pictures or images, are really precious organic matter in which there are many answers to often unasked questions.
The mitotic neurone was seen at routine histological examination of the resected allograft. At the time of the observation, about 10 years ago, it was generally held that mature adult neurones are terminally differentiated, post mitotic cells, incapable of division and proliferation. Thus, publication of this finding was problematic. However it started a train of thought which has led to the recognition that transplanted organs are not "denervated", but only temporarily disconnected. More recently, the possibility that neurones may be replenished seems less far fetched. In this new millennium it is clear that mammalian adult cell potential is virtually unlimited, and it is our own ability that is inadequate to comprehend and control the technologies now capable of releasing cellular biological power.
I like this picture because, like art, looking at it makes me think and question what I "know". It is subversive, as well as being essentially beautiful. Dogma can be questioned every day during routine histopathological diagnosis provided that minds as well as eyes are open. The current movement towards production line medical practice will destroy creative Histopathology.
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