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J Clin Invest. 1995 Nov;96(5):2373-9.

Fluid absorption in isolated perfused colonic crypts.

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Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


A spatial segregation of ion transport processes between crypt and surface epithelial cells is well-accepted and integrated into physiological and pathophysiological paradigms of small and large intestinal function: Absorptive processes are believed to be located in surface (and villous) cells, whereas secretory processes are believed to be present in crypt cells. Validation of this model requires direct determination of fluid movement in intestinal crypts. This study describes the adaptation of techniques from renal tubule microperfusion to hand-dissect and perfuse single, isolated crypts from rat distal colon to measure directly fluid movement. Morphologic analyses of the isolated crypt preparation revealed no extraepithelial cellular elements derived from the lamina propria, including myofibroblasts. In the basal state, crypts exhibited net fluid absorption (mean net fluid movement = 0.34 +/- 0.01, which was Na+ and partially HCO3- dependent. Addition of 1 mM dibutyryl-cyclic AMP, 60 nM vasoactive intestinal peptide, or 0.1 mM acetylcholine to the bath (serosal) solution reversibly induced net fluid secretion (net fluid movement approximately -0.35 +/- 0.01 These observations permit speculation that absorption is a constitutive transport function in crypt cells and that secretion by crypt cells is regulated by one or more neurohumoral agonists that are released in situ from lamina propria cells. The functional, intact polarized crypt described here that both absorbs and secretes will permit future studies that dissect the mechanisms that govern fluid and electrolyte movement in the colonic crypt.

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