Purpose of review: The intestine is a dynamic organ with rapid stem cell division generating epithelial cells that mature and apoptose in 3-5 days. Rapid turnover maintains the epithelial barrier and homeostasis. Current insights on intestinal stem cells (ISCs) and their regulation are discussed here.
Recent findings: The Lgr5+ ISCs maintain intestinal homeostasis by dividing asymmetrically, but also divide symmetrically to extinguish or replace ISCs. Following radiation or mucosal injury, reserve BMI1+ ISCs as well as other crypt cells can de-differentiate into Lgr5+ ISCs. ISC niche cells, including Paneth, immune and myofibroblast cells secrete factors that regulate ISC proliferation. Finally, several studies indicate that the microbiome metabolites regulate ISC growth.
Summary: ISC cells can be plastic and integrate a complexity of environmental/niche cues to trigger or suppress proliferation as needed.
Keywords: Bmi1+; CBC; Lrg5+; Wnt; intestine; stem cell.