Tuft cells: Distribution and connections with nerves and endocrine cells in mouse intestine

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Tuft cells are gastrointestinal (GI) sensory cells recognized by their characteristic shape and their microvilli “tuft”. Aims of the present study were to elucidate their regional distribution and spatial connections with satiety associated endocrine cells and nerve fibers throughout the intestinal tract. C57BL/6J mice were used in the experiments. The small intestine was divided into five segments, and the large intestine was kept undivided. The segments were coiled into “Swiss rolls”. Numbers and topographic distribution of tuft cells and possible contacts with endocrine cells and nerve fibers were estimated in the different segments, using immunocytochemistry. Tuft cells were found throughout the intestines; the highest number was in proximal small intestine. Five percent of tuft cells were found in close proximity to cholecystokinin-immunoreactive (IR) endocrine cells and up to 10% were in contact with peptide YY- and glucagon-like peptide-1-IR endocrine cells. Sixty percent of tuft cells in the small intestine and 40% in the large intestine were found in contact with nerve fibers. Calcitonin gene-related peptide-IR fibers constituted one-third of the fiber-contacts in the small intestine and two-thirds in the large intestine. These observations highlight the possibility of tuft cells as modulators of GI activities in response to luminal signaling.HIGHLIGHTSTuft cells are found in villi/surface epithelia and crypts throughout the intestine.Tuft cell number decrease in a proximal to distal manner.Contacts between tuft cells and satiety associated endocrine cells are described.Tuft cells display numerous contacts with mucosal nerve fibers.

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