Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Melanosomes and isolated melanosomal fragments (melanin particles) originating from gangliocytes (substantia nigra), astroglia (melanosis cerebelli), and melanocytes (melanotic meningeoma; metastases of melanoblastoma; melanosis thalami of the goat) were compared with synthetic melanins prepared from dopamine and serotonin, respectively. Samples were examined by electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction analysis according to Debye-Scherrer and by infrared spectrophotometry, and the results were evaluated with regard to characteristic features as they may relate to specific cell types or chemical structures. On electron microscopy all three types of melanosomes could be differentiated unequivocally as could the two synthetic melanins. Thus, there were similarities between synthetic melanin from dopamine and the gliogenic melanins of the cerebellum; the synthetic melanin from serotonin resembled melanin of melanocytes. X-ray diffraction analysis yielded 2-4 Debye diffraction rings with all human and synthetic samples, suggesting short range orders between 3.8 to 5 Å the sample obtained from a goat with thalamic melanosis showed a specific reflex pattern. While diffraction patterns of some melanins were partially identical, in particular that of melanin from dopamine and melanin of substantia nigra and dentate nucleus, respectively, they were different for the various melanocytic melanins. Further investigations are required to determine whether these differences are due to disparities in basic chemical structures or conformations or else, to particular compositional features of the various types of melanocytes as they arise from benign or malignant tumors or a specific species. Infrared spectrophotometry at higher wave numbers revealed the well known patterns of melanins, which are not, however, very suitable, for their further differentiation. At lower wave numbers (‘fingerprinting’) melanin of substantia nigra and the glial melanin in melanosis cerebelli yielded additional absorption bands of identical configuration. In contrast to melanin from dopamine, melanin from serotonin exhibited a closely similar absorption pattern in this spectral range, suggesting that the neuroectodermal melanins may contain a component possibly arising from serotonin.
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