Intestinal enzymes activities in isolated villus and crypt cells during postnatal development of the rat

Cell Tissue Res. 1977 Jan 12;176(2):167-78. doi: 10.1007/BF00229460.


A modification of Weiser's (1973) cell isolation method was used in order to study the developmental pattern of various intestinal enzyme activities in villus and crypt cells of normal rats from 5 days after birth until 8 weeks. Alkaline phosphatase and enterokinase activities were always located in the upper villus zone during postnatal development. Enterokinase activity was higher in the upper villus cells during the third week of life than after this period. Aminopeptidase activity was located in the crypt cells during the first week, its maximum activity remained in this area until the third week. At this time, sucrase activity appeared in the crypt cells, then aminopeptidase and sucrase activities rose to the villus zone during the fourth week. Amylase activity was detected along the entire crypt-villus axis 5 days after birth, reaching maximum activity in crypt cells at the end of the first week and in the upper villus cells after the fourth week. In contrast with the other enzymes studied almost all amylase activity was soluble in the youngest animals whereas at weaning most of the activity appeared in a particulate form in the villus cells. But in the crypt cells the ratio between particulate and soluble form remained unchanged until the adult stage. Various hypotheses are advanced to explain the patterns of evolution of the different enzymes.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / analysis
  • Amylases / analysis
  • Animals
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / enzymology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / enzymology*
  • Intestine, Small / growth & development*
  • Leucyl Aminopeptidase / analysis
  • Rats
  • Sucrase / analysis
  • Thymidine Kinase / analysis


  • Thymidine Kinase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Amylases
  • Sucrase
  • Leucyl Aminopeptidase