Scanning Microscopy


Since the oesophageal epithelium of common laboratory animals, rats and mice, is keratinized it is unsuitable for comparison with typical non-keratinized stratified squamous human epithelium. It is thus important to find a suitable animal model for the study of human oesophageal tissue changes. This study investigated the microridge structure of immature and adult rabbit specimens, and adult human biopsies by scanning electron microscopy and morphometry. The investigation revealed a similarity between typical squamous human and adult rabbit oesophageal mucosal epithelium. While human epithelium specimens subdivided into two other groups (non-typical squamous and non-squamous); all typical squamous human biopsies were from patients who had normal endoscopy reports and no reflux symptoms. The surface cells of typical squamous human epithelium displayed complex microridge patterns (64% of cell surface) but patterns in non-typical squamous specimens were more variable (38%) (P < 0.001) and cell boundaries less obvious. Rabbit squames displayed clear microridge patterns with an elevation in the percentage of cell surface covered by microridges, with increasing age, from immature to adult specimens (P < 0.001). There was no statistically significant differences between adult rabbit, and 'typical squamous' human biopsies (range 51-65%), results which suggest potential use of a rabbit model to study changes in human oesophageal tissue.

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