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Anat Rec. 2001 Dec 1;264(4):427-37.

Epithelial cell dynamics in rabbit cecum and proximal colon P1.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport, Louisiana 71130, USA.


The large intestine of mammals has long been viewed as an osmoregulatory organ, and evidence suggests that fluid and solute transport mechanisms within the intestine are heterogeneous, varying depending on the particular segment involved. Variations in function are often matched by morphological correlates, but despite the widespread use of rabbit large intestine as an experimental model, there is a lack of knowledge about the cellular makeup and dynamics in the colonic mucosal epithelium. The presence of mitotic figures and immunohistochemical localization of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) were used to identify the proliferative zone(s). Cellular migration patterns were determined through the use of the thymidine analog 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) over a 24-, 48-, and 72-hr period. Apoptotic nuclei were identified utilizing terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase d-UTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL). Both cecum and the initial portion of the proximal colon (P1) exhibited a proliferative zone at or near the crypt base, and migration proceeded upwards toward the surface epithelium lining the intestinal lumen, where apoptosis occurred Turnover time of crypt columnar cells was determined to be about 3 days; that of mucous cells was estimated to be about 5 weeks. Rabbit cecum and proximal colon P1 are similar in their cellular morphology and epithelial cell kinetics. In both, the major proliferative zone is located at or near the crypt base, from which crypt columnar cells migrate toward the lumenal surface epithelium over a period of 3 days. Goblet cell turnover rate is much slower than that of columnar cells.

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