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Chromaffin cell


noun, plural: chromaffin cells

Any of the cells (mostly found) in adrenal medulla and in other ganglia of the sympathetic nervous system that stains readily with chromium salts (hence the name) due to the presence of catecholamines, which it synthesizes and secretes.


In humans, chromaffin cells are derived from the embryonic neural crest. Most of them are located near the sympathetic ganglia, vagus nerve, paraganglia and carotid arteries. A few of them are found in bladder wall, prostate, and behind the liver.

In lower vertebrates, they are located in suprarenal organs.

They are named chromaffin cells because these cells have an affinity for stains containing chromium salts that oxidize and polymerize catecholamines, resulting in brown color (an indication of the presence of epinephrine or norepinephrine).

Word origin: chromaffin: Greek chromaffine (1898), equiv. to chrom- chrom- + Latin affinis next to, inclined to.

Related terms: sympathochromaffin cell.

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