November 6, 1967


JAMA. 1967;202(6):540. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130190146027

Once it was fashionable to speak of the oxyphilic cells of the parathyroid gland as the "rose-red cells," but this name did not adequately dignify the capacity of the cells to hold xanthine and other acid dyes, most of which are red in color. Nor does it define oxyphilic cell function, which has escaped definition despite knowledge of the relation of calcium metabolism to the chief cells for more than sixty years. Many a pathologist encountering the bright pink oxyphilic cells still wonders, "What are they for?"

Electron microscope and histochemical studies indicate that these cells are biologically very active. Several enzymes are shown to be abundant, and the cytoplasm of the cells is normally jammed with a mass of mitochondria. This would indicate overturn of energy at a rate certain to start a fire somewhere. But where?

Working in New South Wales, Australia, Christie assembled parathyroids from almost 600