Endocrine cells in the human oxyntic mucosa. A histochemical study

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1988 Nov;23(9):1089-99. doi: 10.3109/00365528809090174.


The oxyntic mucosa of the human stomach harbors at least five different endocrine cell types (ECL cells, A-like or X cells, somatostatin cells (D), enterochromaffin (EC) cells, and D1 or P cells). Little is known about their functional roles, and of the hormones they produce only somatostatin has been identified. The relative frequency and regional distribution of the different endocrine cell populations were studied in 13 adults with no manifest gastrointestinal disease. From each of them at least three biopsy specimens were taken at seven fixed locations within the oxyntic mucosa. The specimens were examined for the different endocrine cell types by means of immunocytochemistry (staining with antisera against chromogranin A,5-hydroxytryptamine, and somatostatin) and silver staining techniques (demonstration of argyrophil cells by the methods of Grimelius or Sevier-Munger). Chromogranin-positive cells included all endocrine cells identified by the other staining techniques. Grimelius-positive cells included all endocrine cells except the somatostatin cells. Sevier-Munger-positive cells, finally, included the ECL cells and the EC cells. The frequency of ECL cells could be calculated by subtracting the number of EC cells from the number of Sevier-Munger-positive cells. The ECL cells represented 35% of the total endocrine number, somatostatin cells 26%, and EC cells 25%. The remaining 14% consisted of A-like cells, D1 cells, and P cells. Generally, the endocrine cells predominated in the basal portion of the glands, but the various populations of endocrine cells were not uniformly distributed in the various regions of the oxyntic mucosa. However, representative specimens could be obtained from the main body of the stomach, and the results indicate that the examination of a fairly small number of specimens from the main body of the stomach may be sufficient for assessing the frequency of endocrine cells in the oxyntic mucosa of individual patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Cells, Gastric / metabolism*
  • Staining and Labeling