Dense cytoplasmic bodies surrounded by one or two unit membranes and containing mitochondria, vesicles, ribosomes, rough and smooth surfaced endoplasmic reticulum, and lamellated membranes (myelin figures) have been observed in the differentiating mucosa of the duodenum of rat foetuses by electron microscopy. Generally, the cytoplasmic components in the bodies seem to be in varying stages of disintegration. The bodies are found in greatest number on the 17th and 18th day of gestation, i.e. at the onset of differentiation. At this period of development the epithelium is stratified, and the villus formation is initiated by invagination of the epithelium by buds of mesenchyme followed by a splitting of the epithelium along the sides of the invaginations. When the villi have formed, the stratified epithelium has changed to the simple columnar type and the dense bodies have largely disappeared. Simultaneously, the lumen has widened considerably. In a parallel study with the light microscope, frozen sections incubated for the demonstration of acid phosphatase activity revealed the reaction product to be localized in bodies of the same size and distribution as the dense bodies found by electron microscopy. Hence, it seems that the bodies are altered and enlarged lysosomes (cytolysomes) active during the intensive differentiative events in the small intestine during the last part of intra-uterine life.

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