Intestinal mucosal atrophy and adaptation

World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Nov 28;18(44):6357-75. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i44.6357.


Mucosal adaptation is an essential process in gut homeostasis. The intestinal mucosa adapts to a range of pathological conditions including starvation, short-gut syndrome, obesity, and bariatric surgery. Broadly, these adaptive functions can be grouped into proliferation and differentiation. These are influenced by diverse interactions with hormonal, immune, dietary, nervous, and mechanical stimuli. It seems likely that clinical outcomes can be improved by manipulating the physiology of adaptation. This review will summarize current understanding of the basic science surrounding adaptation, delineate the wide range of potential targets for therapeutic intervention, and discuss how these might be incorporated into an overall treatment plan. Deeper insight into the physiologic basis of adaptation will identify further targets for intervention to improve clinical outcomes.

Keywords: Adaptation; Intestine mucosa; Mucosal differentiation; Short bowel syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Atrophy
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Intestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Nutritional Status