A cytochemical study of vascular and cellular development in fetal adipose tissue was conducted utilizing 10 plant lectins (fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled), antibodies against laminin, types II and IV collagen, and a probe for actin. Throughout fetal development (50-110 days) blood vessels were stained by galactose binding lectins and stained for actin, type IV collagen, and laminin. Adipocyte reactivity for laminin was strong throughout development, whereas adipocyte staining for type IV collagen and several lectins increased from weak to moderate between 70 and 110 days of fetal life. In general, staining intensity for lectins was greater for blood vessels than for adipocytes at every age, and staining for lectins and type IV collagen was detected much earlier on blood vessels than on adipocytes. However, the ontogeny and intensity of laminin staining were similar for developing adipocytes and vasculature. Adipocyte staining by several lectins was dependent on location within the tissue, whereas blood vessel lectin staining was not location-dependent. Neuraminidase pretreatment abolished the variation in cellular lectin staining due to location (within the tissue) but did not alter age-related changes in cellular staining. This study indicates that the differentiation of the extracellular matrix of blood vessels and adipocytes is clearly distinct in regard to glycoconjugate composition and temporal pattern of glycoconjugate and type IV collagen deposition. © 1991.
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