The cellular kinetics of villous columnar epithelial cells and M cells in the rabbit small intestine were determined by the use of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) as a tracer. To identify M cells, vimentin antibody was used. The BrdU-labeled nuclei of columnar epithelial cells reached the base of intestinal villi in all portions at 1 day after BrdU administration. Thereafter, BrdU-labeled cells migrated toward the villous tip, but they did not move at a uniform speed. The epithelial cells which existed in intestinal villi on circular folds moved faster than those on mucosa other than circular folds. At 7 days after BrdU administration, the leading edge of BrdU-labeled epithelial cells already disappeared from the villous tip in all portions of the small intestine. In the ileal Peyer's patch, the BrdU-labeled nuclei of microvillous epithelial cells and vimentin-positive M cells appeared near the intestinal crypt orifice at 1 day after BrdU administration, and then migrated toward the luminal surface of the follicle-associated epithelium (FAE). As they moved toward the upper portion of FAE, the number of BrdU-labeled M cells on the side of the dome decreased simultaneously. The leading edge of BrdU-labeled epithelial cells disappeared from the top of the FAE within 7 days. These results suggest that M cells may differentiate from the undifferentiated cells in intestinal crypts within 1 day and disappear from the top of the FAE after the change of their form from M cells into microvillous epithelial cells.
2004 by the Japanese Society of Veterinary Science