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Carbonic anhydrase (CA) isoenzymes have been widely studied in the gastrointestinal tract, where they mediate membrane transport events and pH regulation. However, the esophagus has generally received scant attention. In an immunohistochemical study confirmed by Western blotting, we have detected for CA isoenzymes (CAI, II, III, and IV) in the epithelium of human esophagus. Isoenzymes I, III, and sometimes IV (< 10%) were present in the cytoplasm of basal cells and II and IV in the cytoplasm and cell surface membranes, respectively, of suprabasal cells (prickle cells). The localization of CAIV to the plasma membranes was confirmed by electron microscopic immunocytochemistry. CA was effectively divided at the basal-suprabasal interface between low-activity CAI and III (basal) and high-activity CAII and IV (suprabasal). Carbonic anhydrase in esophageal epithelial cells may have several functions: elimination of CO2 and metabolites, participation in membrane transport events during active cell growth, and pH regulation as a protective mechanism against acidic gastric reflux.

Original publication




Journal article


J Histochem Cytochem

Publication Date





35 - 40


Blotting, Western, Carbonic Anhydrases, Cell Membrane, Cytoplasm, Epithelium, Esophagus, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Humans, Microscopy, Immunoelectron