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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 15 - Endocrine Glands

Plate 15.295 Chromaffin Cells

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed

Heart coronary sulcus

Plate 15.295 Chromaffin Cells

Human, Helly's* fluid, Mallory*-azan stain, 612 x.


Scattered islands of chromaffin cells are found in the subepicardial connective tissue of the coronary sinus. Note relation to capillaries into which it is believed they pour their secretion of catecholamine. Chromaffin cells are usually closely associated with sympathetic nerve fibers and ganglion cells. The brownish coloration is due to oxidation of chromaffin granules by potassium dichromate in the fixative used in this preparation. Because of their structural similarity to cells of the adrenal medulla, it is assumed that chromaffin cell secretion augments action of the sympathetic nervous system by elevating blood sugar, increasing heart rate, raising blood pressure, and generally preparing the organism for emergency situations ("flight or fight").

*Helly was a nineteenth-century Swiss pathologist and Mallory was a twentieth-century American pathologist.

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