Sheets of mucosal epithelial cells were released from guinea pig small intestine after incubation with ethylenediaminetetraacetate. Cells in sheets retained their columnar shape for 24 hr at room temperature, and exclusion of nigrosine suggested they had intact plasma membranes. When sheets were disaggregated individual cells had normal morphology for at least 4 hr. During isolation 16% of the total protein and 24% of the total lactic dehydrogenase were lost from the cells, but subsequent enzyme leakage was low. Leakage increased with shaking, incubation at 37°C, or increasing the oxygen tension of the suspending medium, but was minimal when the Na+:K+ ratio in the medium was 8:1 and the osmolarity was high. Losses of particulate enzyme activities were negligible. Respiration was constant for up to 4 hr and was insensitive to calcium, bicarbonate, oxygen tension, and pH. It was inhibited by cyanide and iodoacetate and varied with the Na+:K+ ratio of the extracellular fluid and the structural integrity of the cells. All preparations concentrated potassium and excluded sodium, but lost this ability if ouabain was added or cells were broken. Potassium-42 uptake was also sensitive to temperature, ouabain, and structural integrity. The preparations are being used to study cell metabolism in the intestinal epithelium.

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