Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The pre-epithelial mucus layer (PML) and epithelial mucins were studied by mucin histochemistry in 10μm-thick celloidinstabilized cryostat sections in the proximal and distal colon of conventional and germ-free rats aged 120 and 350 days. No continuous PML was found in the proximal colon. A continuous mucus blanket, of fairly homogenous thickness, was observed in the distal colon, where the PML-thickness was 40±24 μm at 120 days of age and 44±22μ at 350 days of age in conventional rats, and 25±17μm (120 days) and 22±10μ (350 days) in germ-free rats. The stainability of the PML by periodic acid-Schiff and Alcian Blue at pH 2.5 and 1.0 was stronger in conventional rats than in germ-free rats, indicating higher concentrations of mucosubstances and of acid and sulphated mucins, respectively. The PML of the conventional rat distal colon showed a stratified structure of up to eight sublayers. In the distal colon of germ-free rats, the whole gut wall thickness was reduced 47% compared to the conventional rat (germ-free: 185±73μm, conventional: 350±115μm). No stratification of the PML was observed. The presence of intestinal microflora obviously had a strong influence on the thickness, compactness, mucin content, mucin composition and structure of the pre-epithelial mucus layer.
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