Differential expression of the neurotensin gene in the developing rat and human gastrointestinal tract

B. M. Evers, S. Rajaraman, D. H. Chung, C. M. Townsend, X. Wang, K. Graves, J. C. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Neurotensin (NT) is an important hormone regulating gut motility, secretion, and growth. The purpose of this study was to determine the developmental expression of the NT/neuromedin N gene (NT/N) in the gut and pancreas of rats and humans. We found that NT/N expression, initially low in the fetal rat jejunum and ileum, is increased by postnatal day 3. This increase is independent of contact with luminal nutrients as demonstrated by elevated NT/N expression in rat jejunoileal grafts implanted in nude mice. NT/N expression reaches maximal levels in the small bowel by postnatal day 14. After postnatal day 28, NT/N mRNA levels remain constant in the ileum but decrease in the jejunum. Transient NT/N expression is found in the colon of fetal and postnatal rats. Similar to the rat, NT/N expression is low in the human fetal ileum but increases in the adult. In the human colon, NT/N is transiently expressed in the fetus at midgestation but disappears by birth and, similarly, is not apparent in the adult. We conclude the following. 1) The NT/N gene demonstrates a complex pattern of tissue-specific expression; the jejunum and ileum show a similar pattern of expression until the end of the fourth postnatal week, when NT/N levels decrease in the jejunum to assume the distinctive adult topographical distribution with NT/N increasing along the jejunoileal axis. 2) NT/N is transiently expressed in the colon of rats and humans during a developmental stage characterized by morphological and functional similarities to the small bowel; therefore, NT/N may provide a useful endocrine marker to further define the complex differentiation pathway leading to small bowel and colonic phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G482-G490
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3 28-3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • gene expression
  • gut differentiation
  • ontogeny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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