The processes of proliferation, cell division and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells have been studied during development of the fish, Barbus conchonius. On the 3rd day, nearly all cells of the presumptive gut proliferate. Once the intestinal epithelium begins to differentiate, a decreasing percentage of proliferative cells can be found. On the 7th day, when intestinal folds start to develop, the proliferative cells become restricted to the future basal parts of the folds.
Ultrastructural examination of 3H-thymidine-labeled cells and mitotic cells of 6-day-old larvae shows that functional enterocytes are proliferative. The same feature is suggested for older fish. Proliferating undifferentiated “dark” cells, characterized by many free ribosomes and a few organelles, are also present in the intestinal epithelium of larval fish; they are considered to be stem cells, mainly for goblet cells. Proliferating goblet cells and enteroendocrine cells were not observed. The latter cell type is scarce and has a long turnover time.
A common feature of all these dividing cells is the presence of isolated spherical to cylindrical lamellar structures which may have lost contact with the cell membrane during prophase; they probably regain this contact by fusion with the cell membrane at the end of mitosis.
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Rombout, J.H.W.M., Stroband, H.W.J. & Taverne-Thiele, J.J. Proliferation and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells during development of Barbus conchonius (Teleostei, Cyprinidae). Cell Tissue Res. 236, 207–216 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00216533