Perinatal expression of brush-border hydrolases in rat colon: hormonal and tissue regulations

Am J Physiol. 1989 Oct;257(4 Pt 1):G496-503. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1989.257.4.G496.


The evolution pattern of brush-border digestive hydrolases and their hormonal regulation were studied in the proximal colon of newborn rats. The potentiality of the colon to express a small intestinal enzymatic pattern was also examined in associations made up of colonic endoderm and small intestinal mesenchyme, developed as either intracelomic grafts in 3-day-old chick embryos or as intrarenal grafts in adult rats. A transient increase of lactase- and aminopeptidase-specific activities occurred in the colon from the 19th day of gestation to 14 days after birth, but sucrase activity could never be detected. Immunocytochemical studies with antibodies specific for rat lactase, aminopeptidase, and sucrase confirmed these results. However, the levels of hydrolase activities were lower in the colon than in the jejunum at the same age. Thyroxine or hydrocortisone treatment during the first 4 days postpartum decreased lactase activity by 70 and 30%, respectively, but did not affect aminopeptidase activity. A slight but significant induction of sucrase activity was obtained with both hormones. In contrast, in the jejunum, only thyroxine decreased lactase activity with a lesser effect (30%), but both hormones increased aminopeptidase activity and induced the marked well-known appearance of sucrase activity. The fetal small intestinal mesenchyme was not able to induce the colonic endoderm to achieve a small intestinal-like differentiation. But the exposure of the developed hybrid intestines to glucocorticoids in organ culture allowed expression of sucrase in one-third of the cases. These results demonstrate the presence of brush-border hydrolases in the proximal colon of newborn rats, normally expressed in the small intestine, but never in the adult colon.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Chick Embryo
  • Colon / embryology
  • Colon / enzymology
  • Colon / growth & development*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Endoderm / transplantation
  • Epithelium / enzymology
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hydrocortisone / pharmacology
  • Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microvilli / drug effects
  • Microvilli / enzymology*
  • Muscle Development
  • Muscle, Smooth / embryology
  • Muscle, Smooth / enzymology
  • Muscle, Smooth / growth & development
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reference Values
  • Thyroxine / pharmacology


  • Hydrolases
  • Thyroxine
  • Hydrocortisone