Fusion of intestinal epithelial cells with bone marrow derived cells is dispensable for tissue homeostasis

Sci Rep. 2012:2:271. doi: 10.1038/srep00271. Epub 2012 Feb 15.


The epithelial lining of the intestine is characterized by an immense cellular turn-over ascertaining an extensive regenerative capacity. Multiple reports suggest that besides the local intestinal stem cell pool, circulating cells of bone marrow origin (BMDCs) contribute to this process by fusing with the epithelial lineage. However, the functional relevance of these observations is unknown. In the present study we employ a model system in which we cannot only detect cell fusion but also examine the functional importance of this process in vivo. Our results indicate that fusion between BMDCs and intestinal epithelial cells is an extremely rare event under physiological conditions. More importantly, by employing a system in which fusion-derived cells can be specifically deleted after extensive tissue damage, we present evidence that cell fusion is not relevant for tissue regeneration. Our data decisively demonstrates that intestinal epithelial homeostasis and regeneration is not dependent on cell fusion involving BMDCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Cell Fusion*
  • DNA Primers
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Homeostasis*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA Primers