Endocrine cells in human fetal corpus of stomach: appearance, distribution, and density

J Gastroenterol. 2012 Nov;47(11):1212-20. doi: 10.1007/s00535-012-0597-9. Epub 2012 Apr 28.


Background: Since reports on endocrine cells and their kinetics in the corpus of the human stomach are limited, the aim of this study was to examine the appearance, localization, density, and the relationship among the endocrine cell types in the corpus of the human stomach during prenatal and early postnatal development.

Methods: We examined chromogranin A, somatostatin, ghrelin, glucagon, and serotonin expression by immunohistochemistry in 2 embryos, 38 fetuses, and 3 infants in the corpus of human stomach.

Results: Chromogranin A secreting endocrine cells were identified in the corpus at week 10 of gestation. Somatostatin cells were present from the 10th week, ghrelin and serotonin cells from the 11th week, and glucagon cells from the 12th week of gestation. Endocrine cells were present individually or clustered within the glandular base and body during the first trimester, and were present separately within the basal and central parts of glands during the second and third trimesters. Somatostatin cells were the most common type of cells (~46 %) during the first trimester, while ghrelin cells were the most numerous during the second trimester (~34 %), and in infants (~28 %). The percentage of glucagon cells was significant only during the first trimester of pregnancy (5.5 %), and the percentage of serotonin cells was only significant just before birth (4.8 %).

Conclusions: These results show, for the first time, that the largest number of endocrine cells are present in the corpus during the first trimester of prenatal development. Also, these results suggest that secretory products of endocrine cells play a role in the regulation of homeostasis, growth, and differentiation, and in human stomach function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromogranin A / metabolism
  • Endocrine Cells / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Ghrelin / metabolism
  • Glucagon / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / metabolism
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second / metabolism
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third / metabolism
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Somatostatin / metabolism
  • Stomach / cytology
  • Stomach / embryology*


  • Chromogranin A
  • Ghrelin
  • Serotonin
  • Somatostatin
  • Glucagon