Normal and glucocorticoid-induced development of the human small intestinal xenograft

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003 Jul;285(1):R162-70. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00721.2001. Epub 2003 Jan 30.


The aim of this study was to determine whether intestinal xenografts could recapitulate human in utero development by using disaccharidases as markers. Twenty-week-old fetal intestine was transplanted into immunocompromised mice and was followed. At 20-wk of gestation, the fetal human intestine was morphologically developed with high sucrase and trehalase but had low lactase activities. By 9-wk posttransplantation, jejunal xenografts were morphologically and functionally developed and were then monitored for </=6 mo. Both sucrase and trehalase activities remained unchanged, but lactase activity increased in a manner similar to that described in in utero development. Changes in sucrase and lactase activities were paralleled by protein levels. Cortisone acetate treatment at 20-wk posttransplantation accelerated the ontogeny of lactase but did not alter sucrase and trehalase activities. Biopsies from 1- and 2-yr-old infant intestine showed that all activities, except trehalase in the proximal intestine, corresponded to the levels found in jejunal xenografts at 24 wk posttransplantation. These studies suggest that 20-wk-old fetal intestine has the extrauterine developmental potential to follow normal intrauterine ontogeny as a xenograft.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cortisone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cortisone / pharmacology*
  • Fetal Tissue Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Jejunum / enzymology
  • Jejunum / growth & development
  • Jejunum / transplantation*
  • Lactase
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, SCID
  • Sucrase / metabolism
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Trehalase / metabolism
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Lactase
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Trehalase
  • Sucrase
  • Cortisone