Piecemeal degranulation as a general secretory mechanism?

Enrico Crivellato, Beatrice Nico, Franco Mallardi, Carlo Alberto Beltrami, Domenico Ribatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we review the ultrastructural findings, functional aspects, and biological significance of piecemeal degranulation (PMD), a unique secretory pathway that has been described in basophils, mast cells, and eosinophils. Recent ultrastructural data suggestive of PMD in enteroendocrine cells of the gastrointestinal tract and chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla are also presented and discussed. Further research on PMD in secretory cells of the endocrine and exocrine glands, as well as in neurons, is recommended, since the current data indicate that PMD has a broader spectrum of expression than was hitherto reported. The identification of the PMD phenotype in different cell types (e.g., basophils, mast cells, eosinophils, enteroendocrine cells, and adrenal chromaffin cells) suggests that PMD is a unique degranulation model for paracrine and endocrine secretion. Further investigation will clarify whether PMD can be considered as a general mechanism for the slow release of bioactive stored materials by granulated secretory cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-784
Number of pages7
JournalAnatomical Record - Part A Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2003


  • Basophils
  • Cell secretion
  • Endocrine cells
  • Eosinophils
  • Mast cells
  • Piecemeal degranulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Anatomy


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