The authors of this study examine the question of whether the so-called enterochromaffin or argentaffin cells of the gastrointestinal tract should be considered as a single cell type. The systematic application of purely morphologic methods has led to the conclusion that the epithelium of the gastrointestinal mucosa comprises endocrine cells of several types. This conclusion is primarily based on the uneven and characteristic distribution of the various cell types along the intestinal tract, an observation precluding the interpretation that the different types correspond to diverse functional stages of the same cell. A specific endocrine function may be attributed to each of the given cell types recognized so far on account of their appearance and their localization in characteristic areas of the gastrointestinal tract. It is acknowledged, however, that a purely morphological study leaves room for doubt. The first cell type is probably responsible for the formation of 5-hydroxytryptamine. Cells of type II are morphologically comparable to the pancreatic A cells and may, therefore, be called intestinal A cells. Cell type III comprises intestinal D cells since their appearance corresponds to that of pancreatic D cells. Cell type IV might well be responsible for catecholamine production, whereas gastrin is in all probability produced in endocrine cell type V. As yet, the thorough morphological study of the gastrointestinal epithelium does not provide information as to additional distinct cellular sites of production of the several other hormones isolated from different parts of the gut.

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