Using sensitive and specific radioimmunoassays, concentrations of hormonal peptides have been measured in small biopsies taken from the human stomach, duodenum, and proximal jejunum. Comparison is made of these hormone concentrations and the number of respective endocrine cells present determined by quantitative immunocytochemistry. Immunoreactive somatostatin, VIP, motilin, and gastrin were detected in all regions examined, whereas secretin and GIP were undetectable in antral extracts. Enteroglucagon-like immunoreactivity was present only at and beyond the ligament of Treitz, although a few enteroglucagon-producing cells were shown by immunocytochemistry in the duodenum. The variation of hormone concentration was found to be small in these biopsies of normal tissue within each region of the gut examined, indicating that representative hormone concentrations may be reliably obtained from small biopsy tissues. An attempt has been made to establish reference values for gut hormone concentrations in such biopsies; this may allow future study of any changes in concentration that may occur in pathological conditions.
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