Overgrowth of Squamocolumnar Junction and Dysregulation of Stem Cell Lineages in the Stomach of Vitamin A-Deficient Mice

Neethu Vins, Subi Sugathan, Asma Al Menhali, Sherif M. Karam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Junctional epithelia are common sites for pathological transformations. In mice, the stratified epithelium of the forestomach joins the simple glandular epithelium of the cardia at the limiting ridge. We previously demonstrated the expression of vitamin A receptors in the gastric stem/progenitor cells and their progeny and found that excess retinoic acid enhances cellular dynamics of gastric epithelium. This study examines how deficiency of vitamin A would alter gastric epithelial stem cell lineages. Three-week-old mice of both genders were weaned and fed with a vitamin A deficient (VAD) diet for 4 or 8 months. Sex- and weight-matched littermate mice received a standard (control) diet. To label S-phase cells, all mice received a single intraperitoneal injection of 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine before being euthanized. Stomach tissues were processed for microscopic examination and protein analysis to investigate stem cell lineages using different stains, lectins, or antibodies. The Student’s t-test was used to compare quantified data showing differences between control and VAD groups. Eight-month-vitamin-A deficiency caused enlarged forestomach and overgrowth of the squamocolumnar junction with metaplastic and dysplastic cardiac glands, formation of intramucosal cysts, loss of surface mucosal integrity, increased amount of luminal surface mucus, and upregulation of trefoil factor 1 and H+,K+-ATPase. These changes were associated with decreased cell proliferation and upregulation of p63. In conclusion, vitamin A is necessary for maintaining gastric epithelial integrity and its deficiency predisposes the mouse stomach to precancerous lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3334
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • epithelial integrity
  • gastric epithelium
  • gastric stem cell lineages
  • micronutrients
  • squamocolumnar junction
  • vitamin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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