Real-time PCR of host DNA in feces to study differential exfoliation of colonocytes between rats and humans

E. M.M. Van Lieshout, W. Van Doesburg, R. Van Der Meer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Colonic mucosa has a high turnover rate. At the end of their lifespan, colonocytes become senescent and die. Histological studies indicate that senescent colonocytes are shed (exfoliated) into the fecal stream in rats, but phagocytosed by mucosal macrophages in humans. We study whether quantification of host DNA in feces can be used as a non-invasive marker for this differential disposal of colonocytes. Methods: Selective primers and probes for the rat and human β-globin genes were designed and used in real-time PCR reactions. Results: Host DNA was quantitatively extracted and detected in fecal samples of both species. Feces of rats fed a humanized diet contained approximately 100 μg rat DNA per g freeze-dried feces. In human feces, however, only 5 out of 12 samples contained detectable, though very low (less than 0.35 μg/g), levels of host DNA. This about 300-fold difference could not be attributed to differences in DNase activities in the fecal stream. Conclusion: Our results indicate that there is considerable luminal shedding of senescent colonocytes in rats, whereas mucosal phagocytosis is the main route of colonocyte disposal in humans. Thus, real-time PCR of host DNA in feces can be applied as a non-invasive method for studying the differential exfoliation of colonocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)852-857
Number of pages6
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004
Externally publishedYes


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