Characterization of Discrete Equine Intestinal Epithelial Cell Lineages

A new article in the American Journal of Veterinary Research looked at epithelial cells of the small intestine and colon to enhance detection of stem cells and progenitor cells. The article, “Characterization of discrete equine intestinal epithelial cell lineages,” is available for purchase on


To characterize epithelial cells of the small intestine and colon in horses without clinical gastrointestinal abnormalities with an emphasis on the stem cell niche constituents.


Mucosal biopsy specimens from small and large intestines obtained from 12 horses euthanized for reasons unrelated to gastrointestinal disease or systemic disease.


Intestinal biopsy specimens were collected by sharp dissection immediately following euthanasia. Specimens were prepared for immunohistochemical, immunofluorescence, and transmission electron microscopic imaging to detect and characterize each epithelial cell type. Antibodies against protein biomarkers for cellular identification were selected on the basis of expression in other mammalian species.


Intestinal epithelial cell types were identified by means of immunostaining and morphological characterization with transmission electron microscopy. Some differences in biomarker expression and antibody cross-reactivity were identified in equine tissue, compared with other species. However, each known type of mucosal epithelial cell was identified in equine tissue.


The methodology used can enhance detection of stem cells and progenitor cells as well as postmitotic cell lineages in equine intestinal tissues. Results may have relevance to regenerative potential of intestinal mucosa and survival in horses with colic.


Liara M. Gonzalez DVM, PhD; Leslie A. Kinnin DVM; and Anthony T. Blikslager DVM, PhD, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University.

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