Distribution of two types of lymphocytes (intraepithelial and lamina-propria-associated) in the murine small intestine

Akira Tamura, Hiroyuki Soga, Kei Yaguchi, Mai Yamagishi, Takayoshi Toyota, Jo Sato, Yoshitomo Oka, Tsunetoshi Itoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The intestine, which is exposed to nutrition and to food-derived antigens and microbes including viruses and bacteria, might be an important site for the immune response. Crucial structural and functional differences exist between the small and large intestine, regional differences even having been demonstrated within the small intestine. Accordingly, intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) and lamina propria lymphocytes (LPLs) might be heterogeneous among the different intestinal regions. The aim of this study has been to describe, as accurately as possible, the numbers and T-cell receptor (TCR) phenotypes of IELs and LPLs present in distinct regions of the murine small intestine under physiological conditions. Using an immunohistological technique to differentiate IELs from LPLs, the differential enumeration of IELs and LPLs in distinct regions of the murine small intestine, based upon their definition originally determined by their location, has been performed for the first time and has demonstrated that (1) there are more IELs than LPLs in the duodenum and jejunum, but more LPLs than IELs in the ileum, (2) in the duodenum and jejunum, TCRγδ IELs account for 70%-75% of the total CD3+ IELs, a much greater percentage than previously reported, (3) the ratio of TCRγδ to TCRαβ IELs is inverted in the ileum, with more than 75% IELs being TCRαβ-positive, (4) the lamina propria forms one functional unit throughout the small intestine in terms of the TCR subset components (TCRαβ:TCRγδ=3:1), and (5) the ileum is entirely different from other regions of the small intestine. To deepen our understanding of the functional significance of the small intestine as an immunologically competent organ, the precise distributions of IELs and LPLs, the ratio of their various subsets, and the strict distinction of IELs and LPLs, as described in this study, is indispensable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jul 1


  • Immunohistology
  • Intraepithelial lymphocyte (IEL)
  • Lamina propria lymphocyte (LPL)
  • Mouse (BALB/c; female)
  • TCRαβ
  • TCRγδ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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