Regional variations in the distributions of small intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes in germ-free and specific pathogen-free mice

Exp Mol Pathol. 2002 Jun;72(3):230-5. doi: 10.1006/exmp.2002.2433.


Previously, we reported the regional variations in intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) in the small intestine of mice. To clarify the effects of intestinal bacteria on the distribution of IELs, regional variations in IELs were examined using germ-free (GF) and specific pathogen-free (SPF) BALB/cA mice. The small intestine was taken and divided equally into three parts (the proximal, middle, and distal parts). IELs were isolated from each part of the intestine, and the total number of IELs in GF mice was about one seventh of that in SPF mice. The decreased number of IELs in GF mice suggests that intestinal bacteria may be essential for local expansion of IELs. On the other hand, similar regional variations in IEL subsets observed in both GF and SPF mice, except for some subsets. The similarity of regional variations in GF and SPF mice indicates that the regional variations in IEL subsets may not fundamentally depend on intestinal bacteria.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Germ-Free Life
  • Intestine, Small / anatomy & histology
  • Intestine, Small / cytology*
  • Intestine, Small / immunology
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / metabolism
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta