EP receptor expression in human intestinal epithelium and localization relative to the stem cell zone of the crypts

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26816. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026816. Epub 2011 Oct 25.


There is substantial evidence for PGE2 affecting intestinal epithelial proliferation. PGE2 is also reported to be involved in the regulation of growth and differentiation in adult stem cells, both effects mediated by binding to EP-receptors. We have used the Lgr5 as a marker to scrutinize EP-receptor and COX expression in human intestinal epithelial cells with focus on the stem cell area of the crypts. Normal tissue from ileum and colon, but also duodenal biopsies from patients with untreated celiac disease, were investigated by immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR. The combination of fresh flash-frozen tissue and laser microdissection made it possible to isolate RNA from the epithelial cell layer, only. In the small intestine, Lgr5 labels cells are in the +4 position, while in the colon, Lgr5 positive cells are localized to the crypt bottoms. Epithelial crypt cells of normal small intestine expressed neither EP-receptor mRNA nor COX1/2. However, crypt cells in tissue from patients with untreated celiac disease expressed EP2/4 receptor and COX1 mRNA. In the colon, the situation was different. Epithelial crypt cells from normal colon were found to express EP2/4 receptor and COX1/2 transcripts. Thus, there are distinct differences between normal human small intestine and colon with regard to expression of EP2/4 receptors and COX1/2. In normal colon tissue, PGE2-mediated signaling through EP-receptors 2/4 could be involved in regulation of growth and differentiation of the epithelium, while the lack of EP-receptor expression in the small intestinal tissue exclude the possibility of a direct effect of PGE2 on the crypt epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / analysis
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / genetics
  • Dinoprostone
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / growth & development
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestine, Small / cytology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / analysis
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E / analysis
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E / genetics*
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP2 Subtype
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • LGR5 protein, human
  • PTGER2 protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP2 Subtype
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Dinoprostone