Progress on isolation and short-term ex-vivo culture of highly purified non-apoptotic human intestinal epithelial cells (IEC)

Eur J Cell Biol. 2003 May;82(5):262-70. doi: 10.1078/0171-9335-00312.


Intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) form the largest surface of the human body and are of pivotal importance to digest and absorb nutrients. Furthermore these cells play a critical role shielding the organism against microorganisms and toxins present in the intestinal lumen. It is therefore not surprising that a large group of researchers take great interest in the study of these cells. However, to date it is a challenge to purify viable primary human intestinal epithelial cells and it has been even more fastidious to maintain IEC in culture ex-vivo as IEC undergo apoptosis within hours due to loss of cell anchorage ('anoikis') following the isolation process. Over recent years the authors aimed to continuously improve the isolation technique for primary IEC, allowing a simple, effective and rapid isolation of highly purified non-apoptotic human IEC. In this study the newly improved method is presented and applied to establish ex-vivo cultures of highly purified, fully viable primary IEC displaying important functional properties, making these cells amenable for ex-vivo research on primary human intestinal epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Time Factors
  • fas Receptor / biosynthesis


  • fas Receptor
  • Interferon-gamma