A focus on parietal cells as a renewing cell population

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The fact that the acid-secreting parietal cells undergo continuous renewal has been ignored by many gastroenterologists and cell biologists. In the past, it was thought that these cells were static. However, by using 3H-thymidine radioautography in combination with electron microscopy, it was possible to demonstrate that parietal cells belong to a continuously renewing epithelial cell lineage. In the gastric glands, stem cells anchored in the isthmus region are responsible for the production of parietal cells. The stem cells give rise to three main progenitors: prepit, preneck and preparietal cells. Parietal cells develop either directly from the non-cycling preparietal cells or less commonly via differentiation of the cycling prepit and preneck cell progenitors. The formation of a parietal cell is a sequential process which involves diminishment of glycocalyx, production of cytoplasmic tubulovesicles, an increase in number and length of microvilli, an increase in number and size of mitochondria, and finally, expansion and invagination of the apical membrane with the formation of an intracellular canalicular system. Little is known about the genetic counterparts of these morphological events. However, the time dimension of parietal cell production and the consequences of its alteration on the biological features of the gastric gland are well documented. The production of a new parietal cell takes about 2 d. However, mature parietal cells have a long lifespan during which they migrate bi-directionally while their functional activity for acid secretion gradually diminishes. Following an average lifespan of about 54 d, in mice, old parietal cells undergo degeneration and elimination. Various approaches for genetic alteration of the development of parietal cells have provided evidence in support of their role as governors of the stem/progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation programs. Revealing the dynamic features and the various roles of parietal cells would help in a better understanding of the biological features of the gastric glands and would hopefully help in providing a basis for the development of new strategies for prevention, early detection and/or therapy of various gastric disorders in which parietal cells are involved, such as atrophic gastritis, peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-546
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Feb 7 2010


  • Cell differentiation
  • Cell dynamics
  • Cell renewal
  • Oxyntic gland
  • Oxyntic mucosa
  • Parietal cell
  • Preparietal cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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