Exposure to large doses of x-rays will cause notable increase in the speed of autolysis of the crypt or secretory epithelium of the dog's small intestine. These changes can be demonstrated readily in material obtained from dogs killed 2, 24, 48, 72, or 96 hours after the initial radiation (Text-figs. 1 and 2).
In the radiated dogs the secretory crypt epithelium of the small intestine autolyzes first and the epithelium of the villi last, while the reverse is true in the normal control small intestine. These abnormalities of autolysis associated with lethal Roentgen ray exposures can be demonstrated for the small intestine over the whole 4 day period subsequent to radiation.
The colon shows little change and the stomach no demonstrable changes in autolysis under like conditions. The kidney likewise is negative.
The spleen, lymph glands, liver, and pancreas show a moderate increase in speed of autolysis in tissues taken from radiated animals within 48 hours of the initial exposure.
What the significance of this disturbance of cell ferments in the intestinal mucosa may be, we cannot pretend to say. At least these observations strengthen one's confidence in the profound functional disturbance of this important intestinal epithelium—a disturbance which we believe is responsible for the clinical abnormalities and fatal intoxication.