The gastric mucosa is subject to continual bidirectional renewal by differentiation from stem and transit amplifying cells. It was the aim of this study to characterize the self-renewal of the human gastric mucosa and its two major types of glands in the fundus and antrum, respectively. Three characteristic regions (pit, proliferative, and lower neck regions) were isolated from fundic and antral units by the use of laser microdissection, and expression profiles concerning 15 marker genes were generated by RT-PCR analysis. The surface mucous cells (SMCs) of fundic and antral units differed in their expression of at least four secretory genes, i.e., gastric lipase, TFF3, FCGBP, and lysozyme. The maturation of mucous neck cells was shown to occur stepwise, first towards a mucous phenotype followed by a serous differentiation step. Also, a stepwise maturation of both the antral SMCs and antral gland cells was observed. Additionally, the presence of gastric lipase was also demonstrated for the first time in antral gland cells. In conclusion, the different expression profiles of SMCs of the fundic and antral units could be the basis for the different self-renewal rates of fundic and antral SMCs and could influence the spatial organization of the bacterial microbiota within the various parts of the gastric mucosa.
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