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Abstract

In the ascending colon of adult male rats, large accumulations of differentiated, mucous-type cells were observed which formed the deep one-half to one-third of the crypts almost exclusively. Mitotic activity was localized to the midcrypt, to columnar-type cells. The mucous-type cells were designated as “deep crypt secretory” (DCS), and their histological study was initiated. In the light microscope, the apical cytoplasm was distended with mucous vacuoles which stained differently from goblet cells after using periodic acid-Schiff (PAS), alcian blue, or a Masson stain. In electron-micrographs, a well-developed Golgi complex and rough edoplasmic reticulum in addition to a large number of electron-opaque vacuoles indicated active production of a glycoprotein. The mdcrypt mitotic activity was further demonstrated by using the colchicine technique and 3H-thymidine radioautography. A gradual increse of mucus content and a decrease of nuclear and nucleolar size in the DCS cells from midcrypt to crypt base indicated that these cells originate in midcrypt and mature as they progress toward the crypt base. Cell counts showed that the number of cells constituting the crypts was about the same all along the colon, but the percentage of DCS cells varied: 33% in ascending and 21% in transverse colon. Only 5% and 8% deep-crypt mucous-type cells were found in descending colon and cecum, respectively; but these cells differed in appearance from the mature DCS cells. In conclusion, the presence of a large number of nonmitotic end cells with intense secretory activity has been ascertained for the deep crypts of the ascending colon. The exact relation of these cells to the vacuolated or other epithelial cell types remains for further study.