Tuft cell

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3D image of mouse jejunum tuft cells : A free-floating cryosection was immunostained with a tuft cell marker (anti-phospho-specific antibody against Girdin tyrosine-1798; pY1798 antibody from Immuno-Biological Laboratories) following an established method (Kuga D et al. Journal of Histochemistry & Cytochemistry 65(6) 347-366, Mizutani Y et al. Journal of Visualized Experiments (133) e57475). SAMPLE: Cryosectioned free-floating DDY mouse jejunum (green: phospho-Girdin at tyrosine 1798, red: phalloidin, blue: DAPI) prepared by Iida M, Tanaka M, Asai M in Institute for Developmental Research, Aichi Human Service Center (Kasugai Japan). 3D-video edited by Ito T (Nikon Instech Japan). MICROSCOPE: NIKON A1R-TiE. OBJECTIVE LENS: Plan Apo λ 60x Oil.

Tuft cells are chemosensory cells in the epithelial lining of the intestines. Similar tufted cells are found in the respiratory epithelium where they are known as brush cells.[1] The name "tuft" refers to the brush-like microvilli projecting from the cells.

Ordinarily there are very few tuft cells present but they have been shown to greatly increase at times of a parasitic infection.[2] Several studies have proposed a role for tuft cells in defense against parasitic infection. In the intestine, tuft cells are the sole source of secreted interleukin 25 (IL-25).[3][4][5] Tuft cells are differentiated from stem cells in the bases of intestinal glands and their increase is seen as a type-2 immune response via ILC2s, which secrete IL-13, causing an increase in the number of tuft cells.[5][6] Type 2 immunity is involved in parasitic infections and allergic inflammation.[7]

The presence of α-gustducin in intestinal tuft cells raises the idea that tuft cells may be involved in the taste transduction pathway. Cells also express TRPM5, a signaling molecule in bitter and sweet taste signaling.[5] Mature tuft cells express DCLK1.[8] Tuft cells have also been found to secrete endogenous opioids.[9] The transcription factor Gfi1b has been found to be expressed in tuft cells.[5]

ATOH1 is required for tuft cell specification but not for maintenance of a mature differentiated state, and knockdown of Notch results in increased numbers of tuft cells.[5]


Tuft cells have a pear shape, with a wide base, narrow apex, and a "tuft" of microvilli projecting into the lumen of the organ.[10][11] Tuft cells can be identified by staining for cytokeratin 18, neurofilaments, actin filaments, acetylated tubulin, and DCLK1 to differentiate between tuft cells and enterocytes.[5]

Tuft cells are found in the intestine, and stomach, and as pulmonary brush cells in the respiratory tract, from nose to alveoli.[10]


Tuft cells were first discovered in the trachea of the rat, and in the mouse stomach.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gerbe, F; Jay, P (November 2016). "Intestinal tuft cells: epithelial sentinels linking luminal cues to the immune system". Mucosal Immunology. 9 (6): 1353–1359. doi:10.1038/mi.2016.68. PMID 27554294.
  2. ^ Leslie, Mitch, Closing in on a century-old mystery, scientists are figuring out what the body’s ‘tuft cells’ do, Science, March 28, 2019
  3. ^ Harris, Nicola (2016-03-18). "The enigmatic tuft cell in immunity". Science. 351 (6279): 1264–1265. Bibcode:2016Sci...351.1264H. doi:10.1126/science.aaf5215. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 26989236.
  4. ^ Howitt, M; Lavoie, S (2016). "Tuft cells, taste- chemosensory cells, orchestrate parasite type 2 immunity in the gut". Science. 351 (6279): 1329–33. Bibcode:2016Sci...351.1329H. doi:10.1126/science.aaf1648. PMC 5528851. PMID 26847546.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Gerbe, F; Legraverend, C; Jay, P (September 2012). "The intestinal epithelium tuft cells: specification and function". Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 69 (17): 2907–17. doi:10.1007/s00018-012-0984-7. PMC 3417095. PMID 22527717.
  6. ^ Gerbe, F; Sidot, E; Smyth, DJ; Ohmoto, M; Matsumoto, I; Dardalhon, V; Cesses, P; Garnier, L; Pouzolles, M; Brulin, B; Bruschi, M; Harcus, Y; Zimmermann, VS; Taylor, N; Maizels, RM; Jay, P (14 January 2016). "Intestinal epithelial tuft cells initiate type 2 mucosal immunity to helminth parasites" (PDF). Nature. 529 (7585): 226–30. Bibcode:2016Natur.529..226G. doi:10.1038/nature16527. PMID 26762460.
  7. ^ Steele, S.; Melchor, S.; Petri, W. (November 2016). "Tuft Cells: New Players in Colitis". Trends in Molecular Medicine. 22 (11): 921–924. doi:10.1016/j.molmed.2016.09.005. PMC 5159242. PMID 27717671. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  8. ^ Gerbe, François; Es, Johan H. van; Makrini, Leila; Brulin, Bénédicte; Mellitzer, Georg; Robine, Sylvie; Romagnolo, Béatrice; Shroyer, Noah F.; Bourgaux, Jean-François (2011-03-07). "Distinct ATOH1 and Neurog3 requirements define tuft cells as a new secretory cell type in the intestinal epithelium". The Journal of Cell Biology. 192 (5): 767–780. doi:10.1083/jcb.201010127. ISSN 0021-9525. PMC 3051826. PMID 21383077.
  9. ^ Kokrashvili, Zaza; Rodriguez, Deniliz; Yevshayeva, Valeriya; Zhou, Hang; Margolskee, Robert F.; Mosinger, Bedrich (2009-08-01). "Release of Endogenous Opioids From Duodenal Enteroendocrine Cells Requires Trpm5". Gastroenterology. 137 (2): 598–606.e2. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2009.02.070. ISSN 0016-5085. PMC 2717179. PMID 19272386.
  10. ^ a b Reid, Lynne; Meyrick, Barbara; Antony, Veena B.; Chang, Ling-Yi; Crapo, James D.; Reynolds, Herbert Y. (2005-07-01). "The Mysterious Pulmonary Brush Cell". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 172 (1): 136–139. doi:10.1164/rccm.200502-203WS. ISSN 1073-449X. PMC 2718446. PMID 15817800.
  11. ^ Mezoff, Ethan (2016). "30-Anatomy and Physiology of the Small and Large Intestines". Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease (5 ed.). Elsevier.