Within the blood cells, lactoferrin is found only in the late stage neutrophilic granulocytes. Lactoferrin first appears in these cells during the myelocyte stage of development coincidentally with the specific or secondary granules. Most investigators report a cytoplasmic immunocytochemical localization reaction within the granulocyte. However, others have observed a prominent nuclear localization reaction. Treating the cells with certain fixatives was shown to prevent the relocation of lactoferrin from the cytoplasm to the nucleus when the localization was done on granulocytes prepared by smearing. The present study demonstrated that the relocation of lactoferrin is only a problem when cells were smeared or cytocentrifuged onto slides or fractionated for the purpose of isolating cellular organelles. Under these conditions the selection of fixative is an important consideration. Exposing isolated lactoferrin to a fixative effective in retaining lactoferrin in the cytoplasm of granulocytes smeared on slides did not alter a number of its physical properties. The results suggest that maintenance of the normal cytoarchitecture or effect of fixative on other cellular components prevents the relocation of lactoferrin within the cell during tissue processing and the direct action of fixation on lactoferrin is probably not responsible for this effect.
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