Previous data have shown that the life span of small intestine epithelial cells in germ-free (GF) mice was 4.3 days, while that in conventional (CV) mice was 2.1 days, under ad libitum feeding. On the other hand, in the author's laboratory, it was also found that feeding conditions affected the cells' life span. That is, in CV mice the life span of the cells lengthened under restricted feeding (2.6 days), compared with under ad libitum feeding (1.8 days). In the present experiment the life span of small intestine epithelial cells was investigated using radioautography, under controlled feeding (setting it equal to ad libitum feeding) and restricted feeding, in both CV and GF mice. Small intestine samples were taken from the middle part of duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Body weight changes, organ wet weights and intestine were also measured. In the lower part of the small intestine the effects of a restricted diet on epithelial cell life span prolongation appeared clearly in CV mice, but this effect was reduced in GF mice. This may be partly because the restricted group had slightly shorter villi in the case of GF mice.
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