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Abstract

Measurements of whole population cell kinetics of mouse intestinal epithelium during postnatal development are reported. Swiss albino mice aged 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 19, 24, and 28 weeks were studied. Isolated epithelial preparations of jejunum and colon were used. Most kinetic parameters studied either increased or decreased with age to reach a steady level sometime after weaning. For example, before weaning about 30% of crypts were observed to be branching, while after weaning, the population of crypts that were branching decreased to adult levels of 5–10% in jejunum and 1–2% in colon. Thus, there was very active crypt formation before weaning, which likely continued into adult life but at a lower level. Villus formation appeared to be occurring in animals before weaning (i.e., 1–3 weeks), while it stopped with weaning, and thus the mean villus height increased to a plateau, which was constant with age after 4 weeks. In contrast, the mean villus width increased steadily with age. As the width of villi increased with age, the number of crypts assoiated with a villus also increased (presumably as a result of net crypt production in the adult). These measurements and many others (proportion of cells in S phase, number of cells/cm2, number of cells/villus, number of cells/crypt, etc.) are described.