Tissue underlying the intestinal epithelium elicits proliferation of intestinal stem cells following cytotoxic damage

Cell Tissue Res. 2015 Aug;361(2):427-38. doi: 10.1007/s00441-015-2111-1. Epub 2015 Feb 19.


The goals of this study were to document the proliferative response of intestinal stem cells (ISCs) during regeneration after damage from doxorubicin (DXR), and to characterize the signals responsible for ISC activation. To this end, jejuni from DXR-treated mice were harvested for histology, assessment of ISC numbers and proliferation by flow cytometry, crypt culture, and RNA analyses. Histology showed that crypt depth and width were increased 4 days after DXR. At this time point, flow cytometry on tissue collected 1 h after EdU administration revealed increased numbers of CD24(lo)UEA(-) ISCs and increased percentage of ISCs cycling. In culture, crypts harvested from DXR-treated mice were equally proliferative as those of control mice. Addition of subepithelial intestinal tissue (SET) collected 4 days after DXR elicited increased budding (1.4 ± 0.3 vs. 5.1 ± 1.0 buds per enteroid). Microarray analysis of SET collected 4 days after DXR revealed 1030 differentially expressed transcripts. Cross-comparison of Gene Ontology terms considered relevant to ISC activation pointed to 10 candidate genes. Of these, the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family member amphiregulin and the BMP antagonist chordin-like 2 were chosen for further study. In crypt culture, amphiregulin alone did not elicit significant budding, but amphiregulin in combination with BMP antagonism showed marked synergism (yielding 6.3 ± 0.5 buds per enteroid). These data suggest a critical role for underlying tissue in regulating ISC behavior after damage, and point to synergism between amphiregulin and chordin-like 2 as factors which may account for activation of ISCs in the regenerative phase.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amphiregulin / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / toxicity*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Intestines / cytology
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Regeneration*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Amphiregulin
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Chrdl2 protein, mouse
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Doxorubicin