The location of intestinal cells taken from the base of the crypt to the tip of the villus responsive to calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol) and the distribution of [3H]calcitriol within the intestinal epithelium has been determined in vitamin D-deficient rats. The calcitriol responses examined were CaBP (Ca2+-binding protein) levels as measured by immunodiffusion and alkaline phosphatase levels as determined cytochemically. Calcitriol had no effect on villus structure or on enterocyte kinetics. This made it possible to compare levels of CaBP and alkaline phosphatase activity in enterocytes at different ages in rats at known times after hormone injection. Cells from both the crypt and villus synthesized CaBP in response to calcitriol. Alkaline phosphatase activity was not detectable in crypt cells, although a pool of precursor was produced in these cells in response to calcitriol. Enzyme activity was increased in all villus cells in response to calcitriol, but the quantitative description of this effect was very different from that found for calcitriol effects on CaBP synthesis. Calcitriol injected into vitamin D-deficient rats was detected, within 2h, in all cells of the crypt and villus. Most of the binding was to sites having a high affinity for the injected hormone.

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