Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

5-Hydroxytryptamine in the enterochromaffin cells of the guinea pig alimentary tract


The histoohemical properties of the EC in the guinea pig alimentary canal were studied using the paraformaldehyde-induced fluorescence and five ordinary staining reactions. The fluorescence reaction was observed to be the most sensitive and specific one in the demonstration of the EC. Using the fluorescence and argyrophil techniques concomitantly, it was stated that all the fluorescent EC had also argyrophil properties. These observations lend further support to the author's earlier statement (Penttilä), 1966) that there is only one principal type of EC in the gastrointestinal tract. The argentaffin and other staining reactions were not able to colour all the EC, except in the duodenum.

In the quantitative part of this study the EC number (No./mm) and the 5-HT (μg/g) concentration were determined from the adjacent tissue pieces. Both quantities were absolutely at its highest in the duodenum and decreased in the caudal direction of the intestine. In the stomach the values were of the same magnitude as in the middle part of the intestinal tract. In the oesophagus there were no EC and the 5-HT content was negligible in comparison to the other gastrointestinal sites. The correlation between the EC number and the 5-HT content was highly significant from the stomach to the rectum. The 5-HT content per one EC was the largest in the duodenum. Comparing the histochemical and quantitative results the 5-HT location in the enterochromaffin system was discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Barter, R., andA. G. E. Pearse: Detection of 5-hydroxytryptamine in mammalian enterochromaffin cells. Nature (Lond.)172, 810 (1953).

  2. Benditt, E. P., andR. L. Wong: On the concentration of 5-hydroxytryptamine in mammalian enterochromaffin cells and its release by reserpine. J. exp. Med.105, 509–520 (1957).

  3. Dawson, A. B.: Argentaffin cells of the gastric mucosa of the rabbit, guinea pig, mouse and hamster. Anat. Rec.91, 53–63 (1945).

  4. Eränkö, O.: Quantitative Methods in Histology and Microscopic Histochemistry. Basel and New York: S. Karger 1955.

  5. — Personal communication to Dr.Falck, acknowledged inFalck andTorp (1961).

  6. Erspamer, V.: Cellule enterochromaffini e cellule argentofile nel pancreas dell'uonio e dei mammiferi. Z. Anat. Entwickl.-Gesch.107, 574–619 (1937).

  7. —: Recent research in the field of 5-hydroxytryptamine and related indolealkylamines. Fortschr. Arzneimittelforsch.3, 151–367 (1961).

  8. Falck, B.: Observations on the possibilities of the cellular localization of monoamines by a fluorescence method. Acta physiol. scand.56, Suppl. 197, 1–25 (1962).

  9. —, andCh. Owman: A detailed methodological description of the fluorescence method for the cellular demonstration of biogenic monoamines. Acta Univ. lund II,7, 1–23 (1965).

  10. Gershon, M. D., A. B. Drakontides, andL. L. Ross: Serotonin: Synthesis and release from the myenteric plexus of the mouse intestine. Science149, 197–199 (1965).

  11. Gomori, G.: Chemical character of the enterochromaffin cells. Arch. Path.45, 48–55 (1948).

  12. Hamperi, H.: Über argyrophile Zellen. Virchows Arch. path. Anat.321, 482–507 (1952).

  13. Hellweg, G.: Über Vorkommen und gegenseitiges Verhalten der argentaffinen und argyrophilen Zellen im menschlichen Magen-Darmtrakt. Z. Zellforsch.36, 546–551 (1952).

  14. Jacobson, W.: The argentaffin cells and pernicious anaemia. J. Path. Bact.49, 1–19 (1939).

  15. Keller, R.: Histamin und 5-Hydroxytryptamin in den Gewebemastzellen der Albinoratte. Helv. physiol. pharmacol. Acta15, 371–375 (1957).

  16. Kull, H.: Die chromaffinen Zellen des Verdauungstraktes. Z. mikr.-anat. Forsch.2, 163–200 (1925).

  17. Lagunoff, D., M. Phillips, andE. P. Benditt: The histochemical demonstration of histamine in mast cells. J. Histochem. Cytochem.9, 534–541 (1961).

  18. Linder, A.: Statistische Methoden für Naturwissenschaftler, Mediziner und Ingenieure, Ba. 4, 4. Aufl. Basel u. Stuttgart: Birkhäuser 1964.

  19. Münch, H.: Über Menge und Verteilung der basalgekörnten Zellen im Darm der weißen Ratte. Z. mikr.-anat. Forsch.45, 244–254 (1939).

  20. Murray, J. G., andJ. H. Wyllie: Distribution of histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine and other pharmacologically active substances in the human stomach. Gut5, 530–536 (1964).

  21. Pearse, A. G. E.: Histochemistry, theoretical and applied. London: J. & A. Churchill Ltd. 1960.

  22. Penttilä, A.: Histochemical reactions of the enterochromaffin cells and the 5-hydroxytryptamine content of the mammalian duodenum. Acta physiol. scand.69, Suppl. 281, 1–77 (1966).

  23. Ritzén, M.: Cytochemical identification and quantitation of biogenic monoamines. A microspectrofluorometric and autoradiographic study. Stockholm: P. A. Norstedt & Söner 1967.

  24. Singh, I.: On the alleged presence of non-argyrophile argentaffin cells in the human gastrointestinal tract. Z. Zellforsch.59, 615–624 (1963).

  25. —: Further observations on the alleged presence of non-argyrophile argentaffin cells in the human gastro-intestinal tract. Z. Zellforsch.62, 121–124 (1964).

  26. —: Argyrophile and argentaffin reactions in individual granules of enterochromaffin cells of the guinea pig. Z. Zellforsch.73, 549–552 (1966).

  27. Verity, M. A., S. M. Mellinkoff, M. Frankland, andM. Greipel: Serotonin content and argentaffin and Paneth cell changes in ulcerative colitis. Gastroenterology43, 24–31 (1962).

  28. Vialli, M.: Histology of the enterochromaffin system. In: Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie (Hrsg.V. Erspamer), Bd. XIX. Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer 1966.

  29. Weissbach, H.: The estimation of serotonin in biological material. Stand. Meth. Clin. Chem.4, 197–203 (1961).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Penttilä, A. 5-Hydroxytryptamine in the enterochromaffin cells of the guinea pig alimentary tract. Histochemie 11, 185–194 (1967).

Download citation


  • Middle Part
  • Quantitative Result
  • Intestinal Tract
  • Adjacent Tissue
  • Alimentary Tract