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The julianum.net GazetteUnderstanding how the intestine replaces and repairs itself

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The within lining the the gut consists of a single cell class of intestinal epithelium that creates millions of crypts and also villi. Stem cell (shown in green) reside at the bottom that the crypts and also replicate daily, generating new cells to preserve the tissue.

photo courtesy that Unmesh Jadhav/HMS, DFCI


julianum.net researchers uncover mature cells revert ago to stem cells to an increase tissue regeneration and also repair in mouse intestines


Researchers in ~ julianum.net Stem cabinet Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and julianum.net clinical School have established a formerly unknown mechanism that plays an important role in the regeneration of the inner minister lining. Your findings provide new insights on just how this tissue, i beg your pardon undergoes readjust on a day-to-day basis, maintains itself.

You are watching: Cells lining the digestive tract replace themselves every

The intestine is the most very regenerative organ in the human being body, regenerating the lining, referred to as the epithelium, every five to seven days. Consistent cell renewal allows the epithelium to withstand the constant wear and also tear the suffers when breaking under food, absorbing nutrients, and also eliminating waste.

In a cell Stem cabinet study, the researchers uncovered that tires cells, rather of other stem cells, to be responsible because that replenishing the stem cell populace in the minister crypts — cavities at the bottom that hair-like frameworks in the intestine — of mice.

“This is a very straightforward discovery that enables us to deep understand just how a tissue is organized,” said Ramesh Shivdasani, primary faculty member in ~ the julianum.net Stem cabinet Institute, professor of medication at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at julianum.net medical School, and senior author the the study.

Over the previous 10 years, scientists have thought the the level to i beg your pardon the minister epithelium could regenerate relied on the presence of a second population of stem cells that continued to be dormant till needed. Instead, when working stem cells are depleted, some varieties of mature cell transform themselves into stem cell after undergoing a procedure called dedifferentiation, follow to the brand-new study.

“This process is possible because all the cells in our body have the same genetic code,” claimed Shivdasani, “but what renders each cell different is the components of that genetic code that space actually active.”

For dedifferentiation to take place, a cell demands to rearrange the method its DNA is folded right into chromatin in ~ the nucleus. This would change which genes are active, something that is generally thought about unlikely to happen.

However, after depleting the original stem cell population in mouse intestinal crypts, Shivdasani and also his partner analyzed molecular markers and also chromatin signatures distinctive to every cell form to determine which varieties of cells to be present and in what quantities.

They discovered that two different species of cell populations readjusted as brand-new stem cells appeared, indicating the these cells to be dedifferentiating and also becoming stem cells. Every evidence argues that the exact same mechanism likely occurs in humans.

“The intestine appears to have enormous plasticity,” stated Shivdasani, “and in thousands of intestinal crypts we could watch the chromatin unfolding.”

This study sheds irradiate on straightforward processes that take place deep in our tissues, allowing our body to deal with injury, and it may administer a structure for identify therapeutic targets in the future. Shivdasani point out out, however, that it’s too at an early stage to understand just how this understanding may bring about treatments for details diseases.

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“We still nothing understand exactly how the mature cells in the intestine understand that the stem cells room missing,” stated Shivdasani, however “we have presented that the chromatin barriers are easily reversible and that cells undergoing dedifferentiation deserve to be captured and studied, i beg your pardon is critical start.”

This study was supported by funding from the nationwide Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the nationwide Institute that Allergy and also Infection Diseases, the nationwide Institutes the Health, and also gifts native the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research structure and Pan-Mass Challenge.