The Histochemical journal

Localization of cathepsin B activity in fibroblasts and chondrocytes by continuous monitoring of the formation of a final fluorescent reaction product using 5-nitrosalicylaldehyde.

PMID 3440760


The histochemical fluorescence method using 5-nitrosalicylaldehyde for the demonstration of cathepsin B activity has been used. Precipitation of the fluorescent final reaction product was analysed continuously during incubation for cathepsin B activity. Unfixed cultured human fibroblasts as well as cryostat sections of mouse metacarpal bone explants were used. Continuous monitoring of the formation of the fluorescent reaction product showed that after a certain lag phase, depending on the enzyme activity in the tissue, discrete granules appeared which became increasingly fluorescent with incubation time. Subsequently, recrystallization and redistribution of the final reaction product started to occur. It is concluded that the coupling reaction with 5-nitrosalicylaldehyde is sufficiently fast for a proper localization of proteinase activity and can be used for 'kinetic' analysis of enzyme activity. The method provides indications of relative amounts of cathepsin B activity in different cell types within a tissue section. It appeared from the study on metacarpal bone explants that fibroblasts in perichondrium and periosteum contained a relatively high cathepsin B activity whereas chondrocytes showed a low but distinct activity. This observation suggests that cysteine proteinases are not only involved in collagen degradation by fibroblasts but that they also play a role in the intracellular digestion of collagen by chondrocytes.

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2-Hydroxy-5-nitrobenzaldehyde, 98%