Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 239, Issue 3, pp 519–530 | Cite as

Uptake and transport of intact macromolecules in the intestinal epithelium of carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) and the possible immunological implications

  • J. H. W. M. Rombout
  • C. H. J. Lamers
  • M. H. Helfrich
  • A. Dekker
  • J. J. Taverne-Thiele


Two protein antigens, horseradish peroxidase (HRP) and ferritin, have been administered to the digestive tract of carp. Electron-microscopical observations reveal considerable absorption of both antigens in the second segment of the gut (from 70 to 95% of the total length) and also, although to a lesser extent, in the first segment (from 0 to 70% of the total length). Even when administered physiologically with food, a large amount of ferritin is absorbed by enterocytes in the second gut segment.

HRP and ferritin are processed by enterocytes in different ways. HRP seems to adhere to the apical cell membrane, probably by binding to receptors, and is transported in vesicles to branched endings of lamellar infoldings of the lateral and basal cell membrane. Consequently, most of the HRP is released in the intercellular space where it contacts intra-epithelial lymphoid cells. Only small amounts of HRP become localized in secondary lysosomes of enterocytes. Ferritin does not bind to the apical cell membrane; after uptake by pinocytosis, it is present in small vesicles or vacuoles that appear to fuse with lysosome-like-bodies. In the second segment, intact ferritin ends up in the large supranuclear vacuoles (after 8 h), where it is digested slowly. Although no ferritin is found in the intercellular space, ferritin-containing macrophages are present between the epithelial cells, in the lamina propria and also to a small extent in the spleen. The transport of antigens from the intestinal lumen, through enterocytes, to intra-epithelial lymphoid cells or macrophages may have immunological implications, such as induction of a local immune response and prospectives for oral vaccination.

Key words

Antigen transfer Electron microscopy Enterocytes Macrophages Fish 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. W. M. Rombout
    • 1
  • C. H. J. Lamers
    • 1
  • M. H. Helfrich
    • 1
  • A. Dekker
    • 1
  • J. J. Taverne-Thiele
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Animal Morphology and Cell BiologyAgricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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