Ultrastructure of normal and leukemic leukocytes in human peripheral blood

Douglas R. Anderson

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78 Scopus citations


Recently developed techniques were used to study the ultrastructure of leukocytes from 8 normal and 26 leukemic individuals. Normal granulocytes are rich in glycogen, have a compact Golgi zone between the nuclear lobes, and possess few mitochondria or ribosomes. The cytoplasm is filled with specific granules which are distinct for neurtrohils, eosinophils, and basophils. Monocytes are characterized by an irregular nucleus, an extensive Golgi zone, numerous ribosomes, a few short strands of rough endoplasmic reticulum, randomly distribued mitochondria, occasional tufts of fibrils, and small dense granules, The small lymphocyte is characterized by a densely stained nucleus surrounded by a narrow cytoplasmic rim filled with ribosomes and containing up to a dozen mitochondria, a few strands of rough endoplasmic reticulum, a small Golgi zone, and sometimes a small band of firbrils. Large lymphocytes are intermediate in structure between small lymphocytes and monocytes, but they lack monocytic granules. A fouth type of agranulocyte has well developed cisternae of endoplasmic reticulum and an immature and has previously been described only in the thoracic duct lymph. The balst cells of acute leukemia have large pale nuclei and a thin rim of cytoplasm containing many free ribosomes, a few channels of endoplasmic reticulum, round or oval mitochondria, and sometimes a large band of fibrils. Myeloblasts differ only slightly from lymphoblasts by having more cytoplasm, more numerous mitochondria (which are somewhat more electron dense), and more irregular nucleus. In chronic granulocytic leukemia, the blast stage is followed by the promyelocyte stage in which the appearance of granules is accompanied by the development of a very large Golgi apparatus and dilated sacs of endoplasmic reticulum. With further maturation, there is a reduction in mitochondria, ribosomes, and endoplasmis reticulum. After nuclear alteration, maturation of the granules, and the apperance of glycogen, the mature granulocyte stage is reached.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-42
Number of pages42
JournalJournal of Ultrasructure Research
Issue numberSUPPL. 9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1966

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Molecular Biology


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