Paracrine action of transforming growth factor-alpha in rectal crypt epithelium of humans

Document Type


Publication Date



Colon and rectal mucosal crypt epithelium is a rapidly renewing cell population, where cell proliferation is normally balanced by cell loss. This report concerns the putative paracrine action of transforming growth factor α(TGF-α) in this homeostatic process. Immunohistochemical staining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and TGF-α was performed on biopsy specimens of rectal mucosa taken from consenting patients. The height of the proliferative compartment in mid-axially sectioned crypts in each individual was determined from the distribution of PCNA stained cells. The number of TGF-α stained cells that exhibited intense positive staining in a continuous column from the mouth down the side of the crypt was also scored in each individual patient. There was a significant positive correlation (P=0.05,n =22 patients) between the height of the proliferative compartment and the number of cells staining for TGF-α. Non-cellular TGF-α reactivity was also observed in the lamina propria adjacent to the TGF-α reactive epithelial cells, indicating secretion of TGF-α by these epithelial cells. These findings suggest that TGF-α is released from epithelial cells in the upper compartment of the crypt into the adjacent lamina propria and then diffuses to the epithelial cells in the lower part of the crypt, resulting in expansion of the proliferative compartment.


This article was published by Elsevier on behalf of The International Federation for Cell Biology. The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com and athttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1006/cbir.2002.0962/abstract

Copyright © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.