Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger,
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed
Human, Zenker's fluid, Verhoeff & Van Gieson's stain, 612 x.
Sarcolemma: External limiting membrane of muscle fibers. Not ordinarily seen in light microscopic preparations. Seen here because of artifactual retraction of contractile elements. This artifact permitted Bowman, in 1840, to demonstrate the membrane and to name it the sarcolemma. The true sarcolemma, very much thinner than seen here, is responsible for the conduction and spread of electrical impulses from the motor end plate over the entire muscle surface, resulting in contractile activity. Electron microscopy has shown the sarcolemma to be 100 Å or 10 nm in thickness. The apparent increase in thickness rendering it visible in this preparation is due to adherent stainable sarcoplasm and, externally, to a thin basement membrane and associated reticular connective tissue fibers.
Van Gieson, 1865-1913, was an American histologist and bacteriologist and Verhoeff (1874-1968) was an American ophthalmologist.
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