The assembly of integrated rat intestinal-hepatocyte cultures
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The jejunum is the segment of the small intestine responsible for several metabolism and biotransformation functions. In this report, we have cultured rat jejunum explants in vitro and integrated them with hepatocyte cultures. We have also investigated the changes in jejunum function at different locations since spatial variations in intestinal functions have been reported previously. We divided the length of the rat jejunum into three distinct regions of approximately 9 cm each. We defined the regions as proximal (adjacent to the duodenum), medial, and distal (adjacent to the ileum). Spatiotemporal variations in functions were observed between these regions within the jejunum. Alkaline phosphatase activity (a marker of enterocyte function), decreased twofold between the proximal and distal regions at 4 hr. Lysozyme activity (a marker of Paneth cell function) increased from the proximal to the distal jejunum by 40% at 24 hr. Mucin-covered areas, a marker of goblet cell function, increased by twofold between the proximal and distal segments of the jejunum at 24 hr. When hepatocytes were integrated with proximal jejunum explants, statistically higher urea (similar to 2.4-fold) and mucin (57%) production were observed in the jejunum explants. The integrated intestine-liver cultures can be used as a platform for future investigations.