An immunocytochemical study was conducted on elastic components in the sclera of seven aged human eyes. By conventional electron microscopy, elastic tissue consists of three distinct fibre types--elastic fibres, elaunin fibres, and oxytalan fibres. The distribution of six components associated with the elastic system (elastin, amyloid P component, laminin, fibronectin, gp 115, and vitronectin) were studied by immunogold transmission electron microscopy. The codistribution of amyloid P component and laminin was further studied by double immunolabelling. Both elastic and elaunin fibres contained elastin. The microfibrillar sheaths of elastic fibres labelled for amyloid P component, those of elaunin fibres for amyloid P and laminin, and those of oxytalan fibres for laminin only. No labelling was observed for fibronectin, gp 115, and vitronectin. In terms of the proteins investigated, the biochemical profile of the three fibre types was not completely identical and was manifest as different affinities in the binding of serum amyloid P component and an association with laminin.
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