Cell population kinetics of zymogen and parietal cells in the stomach of mice

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With autoradiography after labelling with tritiated thymidine, the kinetics of zymogen and parietal cells were studied in the gastric mucosa of mice. After one intraperitoneal injection of the DNA precursor, zymogen cells in the DNA synthesis phase were clearly identified on autoradiograms, whereas no parietal cells were seen to synthesize DNA.

In another group of mice, multiple injections were used in order to obtain a greater number of labelled cells. Following the latter procedure, analysis of grain count distributions over labelled zymogen cells and of labelling indices allowed detection of two subsequent zymogen cell divisions within an interval of approximately two months. This indicates that the cell turnover of zymogen cells is at least partly assured by their own mitotic activity.

By contrast, parietal cells showed no evidence of cell division, but appeared to be derived through differentiation from other cells in the neck area of the gland. Analysis of spatial distribution of the labelled parietal cells in the glandular tube indicated that, in time, most newly formed parietal cells undergo a slow migration directed downwards to the bottom of the fundic glands.

These results clearly show that the zymogen and the parietal cell population of the fundic glands have a different kinetic behaviour.

This work was supported by a grant of the “Nationaal Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek”.