On the presence of intermediate cells in the small intestine

Anat Rec. 1988 Mar;220(3):291-5. doi: 10.1002/ar.1092200310.


In the small intestine, the presence of transitional cells or cells intermediate between Paneth cells and goblet cells has been reported frequently for 100 years. Light microscopy and, more recently, fine structural studies have indicated that secretory granules observed in intermediate cells share some morphologic characteristics with those of granular goblet cells and of Paneth cells. In order to verify if intermediate cells in the jejunum and ileum of the adult mouse have functional similarities with either granular goblet or Paneth cells, we have studied the incorporation of sulfur-35 by radioautography and the localization of lysozyme by immunocytochemistry. After radioautography, goblet cells and, to a lesser extent, granular goblet cells had incorporated sulfur-35, whereas Paneth cells and intermediate cells were completely negative. Immunolocalization of lysozyme was done by using rabbit anti-rat lysozyme and protein A-peroxidase. After demonstration of peroxidase activity, only Paneth cells were stained and intermediate cells were negative. Therefore, intermediate cells do not contain sulfomucin or lysozyme, and they are functionally different from goblet and Paneth cells. Their function remains unknown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / enzymology
  • Female
  • Ileum / cytology*
  • Ileum / enzymology
  • Jejunum / cytology*
  • Jejunum / enzymology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Muramidase / analysis
  • Peroxidases / analysis


  • Peroxidases
  • Muramidase