Morphological and Immunohistochemical Identification of Villous M Cells in the Small Intestine of Newborn Piglets

DOI : 10.4067/S0717-95022015000400011
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Li Renfeng; Tian Xiangqin; Qiao Songlin; Yang Yanyan; Zhou Enmin & Zhang Gaiping


Microfold (M) cells act as antigen-sampling sites for initiating antigen specific mucosal immune responses, but they may also provide a gateway for enteropathogen entry. In this study we demonstrated villous M cells by morphological and immunohistochemical methods to be present in the three regions of the small intestine from newborn piglets. Immunohistochemical analysis, using anti- cytokeratin 18 (CK18) primary antibodies, showed a gradually decreased density of M cells from the lower crypt epithelium to the upper villous epithelium. The proportion of villous M cells was greater in the ileum than in the duodenum or the mid-jejunum. Ultrastructural observation revealed that villous M cells were mainly columnar in shape in the duodenum and the mid-jejunum, and appeared as more pocket-like structure in the ileum. These villous M cells exhibited short and irregular microvilli, rich vesicles and reduced glycocalyx, but lacked the lymphocyte-containing basolateral invagination. Our results support evidence that M cells can develop in the small intestinal villous epithelium of newborn piglets, implying that villous M cells may begin developing in the pig's small intestine during fetal stages, which depends neither on the influence of the mucosal lymphoid tissue nor the antigen from the intestinal lumen stimulation. In addition, the variable morphology and heterogeneity distribution of villous M cells in the three regions of the small intestine may be indicative of its different functional properties. This information extent our understanding of the diversity of M cells and provides important basic knowledge for further research on the actual role of villous M cells in neonate.

KEY WORDS: M Cells; Villous epithelium; Small intestine; Newborn piglets.

How to cite this article

RENFENG, L.; XIANGQIN, T.; SONGLIN, Q.; YANYAN, Y.; ENMIN, Z. & GAIPING, Z. Morphological and immunohistochemical identification of villous M cells in the small intestine of newborn piglets. Int. J. Morphol., 33(4):1261-1268, 2015.