Trefoil peptide expression in intestinal adaptation and renewal

R. Poulsom, R. Chinery, C. Sarraf, E. N. Lalani, G. Stamp, G. Elia, N. Wright

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25 Citations (Scopus)


There are many avenues where molecular biology is important in studying the gut, and here we explore methods for defining expression of a new gene family in the gut. We have defined the pattern of trefoil peptide gene expression in the ulceration-associated cell lineage (UACL) and in the nearby mucosa in Crohn's disease. In the UACL, human spasmolytic polypeptide mRNA and peptide are expressed in the acinar and proximal duct cells, whereas pS2 mRNA and peptide are found in the distal duct cells and in the surface cells. In adjacent mucosa, pS2 mRNA and protein are expressed ectopically by goblet cells. Ultrastructural immunolocalisation showed the pS2 to be co-packaged in the mucous cell granules. pS2 peptide was demonstrated in local neuroendocrine cells and was also co-packaged with the neuroendocrine granules. The crypts associated with the UACL also showed marked neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia. We have also cloned the newest trefoil peptide intestinal trefoil factor from human and rat intestinal mucosa and shown its co-expression with mucus by normal intestinal goblet cells. The co-packaging of the same secretory protein in both mucous and neuroendocrine granules, which have different functions, is unusual and indicates an important role for pS2 in the secretory process itself or as a ligand delivered to its receptor via multiple routes. We conclude that the trefoil peptides are widely distributed in the intestine in inflammatory bowel disease and are of considerable potential functional importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue numberS192
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Growth factors
  • Intestinal adaptation
  • Mucous cells
  • Neuroendocrine cells
  • Trefoil peptides
  • Ulceration


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