Intestinal gland

Intestinal gland
Intestinal gland
Small intestine low mag.jpg
Micrograph of the small intestine mucosa showing the crypts of Lieberkühn - bottom 1/3 of image. H&E stain.
Latin glandulae intestinales
Gray's subject #248 1174

In histology, an intestinal crypt (also crypt of Lieberkühn and intestinal gland) is a gland found in the epithelial lining of the small intestine and colon. The crypts secrete various enzymes, including sucrase and maltase, along with enteropeptidase.

Also, new epithelium is formed here, which is important because the cells at this site are continuously worn away by the passing food. The basal (further from the intestinal lumen) portion of the crypt contains multipotent stem cells. During each mitosis, one of the two daughter cells remains in the crypt as a stem cell, while the other differentiates and migrates up the side of the crypt and eventually into the villus. Goblet cells are among the cells produced in this fashion. Many genes have been shown to be important for the differentiation of intestinal stem cells.[clarification needed]

Loss of proliferation control in the crypts is thought to lead to colorectal cancer.


Pathologic changes

Micrograph showing intestinal crypt branching, a histopathological finding of chronic colitides. H&E stain.

Pathologic processes that lead to chronic, i.e. on-going, intestinal crypt destruction are associated with branching of the crypts.

Causes of crypt branching include:

Micrograph showing crypt inflammation. H&E stain.

Crypt inflammation is known as cryptitis and characterized by the presence of neutrophils between the enterocytes. A severe cryptitis may lead to a crypt abscess.


The eponymous term (crypts of Lieberkühn) is named after the 18th-century German anatomist Johann Nathanael Lieberkühn.

See also

Additional images

External links

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