Since aberrant wound healing and chronic inflammation can promote malignant transformation, we determined whether dietary bioactive fish oil (FO)-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) modulate stem cell kinetics in a colitis-wounding model. Lgr5-LacZ and Lgr5-EGFP-IRES-creER(T2) mice were fed diets enriched with n-3 PUFA vs n-6 PUFA (control) and exposed to dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) for 5days in order to induce crypt damage and colitis throughout the colon. Stem cell number, cell proliferation, apoptosis, expression of stem cell (Lgr5, Sox9, Bmi1, Hopx, mTert, Ascl2, and DCAMKL-1) and inflammation (STAT3) markers were quantified. DSS treatment resulted in the ablation of Lgr5(+) stem cells in the distal colon, concurrent with the loss of distal crypt structure and proliferating cells. Lgr5, Ascl2 and Hopx mRNA expression levels were decreased in damaged colonic mucosa. Lgr5(+) stem cells reappeared at day 5 of DSS recovery, with normal levels attained by day 6 of recovery. There was no effect of diet on the recovery of stem cells. FO fed animals exhibited higher levels of phospho-STAT3 at all time points, consistent with a higher wounding by DSS in FO feeding. n-3 PUFA-fed mice exhibited a reduction in stem cell associated factors, Ascl2, Axin2 and EphB3. These results indicate that rapidly cycling Lgr5(+) stem cells residing at position 1 in the colon epithelium are highly susceptible to DSS-induced damage and that dietary cues can impact stem cell regulatory networks.
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