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During embryonic development, studies on mouse and human embryos have established that Muc1/MUC1 expression coincides with the onset of epithelial sheet and glandular formation. This study aimed therefore at evaluating the temporal and spatial expression of Muc1 at different stages of rat development. In this experiment, 80 animals were included: 64 rat foetuses at 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 days of gestation from pregnant females (WKAH/Hok), 8 embryos each stage. Standard immunohistochemistry was performed using anti-MUC1 cytoplasmic tail polyclonal antibody (CT33). The reaction was considered positive when more than 5% of the cells were stained; reaction patterns were: L = linear, membrane, C = cytoplasmic and M = mixed; nuclear staining was also recorded. Intensity was graded as negative (-), low (+), moderate (++) and strong (+++). Muc1 expression was observed with a low intensity on 13th day (13 d) in the stomach, lung and kidney; at 14 d, small intestine and pancreas were also reactive; at 16 d, liver and esophagus and at 18 d, trachea and salivary glands. During the development, intensity increased while the pattern of expression changed: at the first days of gestation, it was predominantly linear and apical while during further development an increase in cytoplasmic expression was observed. Trachea, stomach, kidney and lung epithelia were the more reactive tissues. In specimens belonging to neonates and adults, all tissues analyzed showed similar Muc1 expression. The findings of this study assess that Muc1 is highly expressed in the epithelial rat embryonic development.
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