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Cells that biosynthesize and export large amounts of proteins have strongly

basophilic cytoplasmic regions, which have been named ergastoplasm (from

Greek: ergasticos = industrious,working cytoplasm). In light microscopic images,

this basophilic material appears in a variety of forms. The homogeneous

or banded material (chromophilic substance) from the basal part of

highly active secretory gland cells (see Fig.19) is very well known, and so are

the smaller or larger chromophilic bodies in the cytoplasm of nerve cells

to their ribosome content, these cell components have a high affinity

for basic dyes (e.g., hematoxylin). Electron microscopy reveals an elaborate

system of densely packed granular endoplasmic reticulum (rough ER,

rER) as the material that makes up the basophilic ergastoplasm seen in light


This figure shows acini from the exocrine pancreas. These cells show pronounced

basal basophilia 1 . In contrast, the supranuclear and apical cytoplasmic

regions are only sparsely granulated.

1 Cell regions with ergastoplasm, basal basophilia

2 Lumina of the acini

3 Blood vessels



Basophilic cytoplasm (blue) in the basal regions of gland cells (basal basophilia)

1 (cf. Fig.18). The presence of ribosomes accounts for the affinity to basic

dyes. The basophilic cytoplasm corresponds to the granular (rough) endoplasmic

reticulum (rER).The supranuclear and apical cell

regions contain no ergastoplasm and therefore remain unstained. The round

cell nuclei in the basal cytoplasmic region are stained light blue. Parotid

gland (glandula parotidea) of the rat.

1 Cell regions with ergastoplasm, basal basophilia

2 Acini

3 Blood vessels



The cytoplasm of multipolar neurons fromthe columna anterior of the spinal

cord contains a dense distribution of fine or coarse bodies, which can be emphasized

by staining with cresyl violet. They are called Nissl bodies or Nissl

substance  (tigroid bodies), after Franz Nissl (1860–1919), who discovered

them. Electron microscopy identifies groups of polysomes and components

of the rough (granular) endoplasmic reticulum (ergastoplasm ) as the structures

that correspond to the Nissl bodies.


1 Nissl bodies (substance)

2 Nucleus with nucleoli

3 Dendrites

4 Glial cell nuclei