TFF3 is a member of the trefoil factor family (TFF) peptides, which enhance the surface integrity of mucous epithelia, and is typically secreted by intestinal goblet cells together with the mucin MUC2. Reports of the expression of TFF3 within the normal human stomach are contradictory and the precise localisation of TFF3 is unknown. We have mapped the human gastric mucosa by reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis and by immunohistochemistry. Small amounts of TFF3 were detectable in the oxyntic mucosa of the corpus, whereas TFF3 synthesis increased sharply distal to the corpus-antrum transitional zone. TFF3 secretion was demonstrated in the antrum, the pyloric region and the proximal duodenum. High TFF1 levels were present in all regions of the gastric mucosa including the corpus, whereas the proximal duodenum was nearly devoid of TFF1. Immunohistochemistry localised TFF3 to antral and pyloric surface mucous cells. In the antrum, an increasing concentration gradient was found towards cells deeper in the isthmus. TFF1 was confined to superficial pit cells in the antrum. TFF3 was also present in specific layers of the laminated mucous gel of the antral and pyloric regions and variable concentrations of TFF3 (2-62 nmol/l) were measured in gastric juice. Here, a probably N-terminally shortened variant is present that forms disulphide-linked dimers. Thus, TFF3 is a typical secretory peptide of the normal human antral and pyloric gastric mucosa and has a gastric expression pattern different from that of TFF1 and TFF2. TFF3 might therefore have important physiological functions in the stomach, e.g. as a luminal surveillance peptide maintaining particularly the integrity of the antral and pyloric mucosa.
Copyright 2004 Springer-Verlag