The intestinal epithelium is a rapidly renewing cellular compartment. This constant regeneration is a hallmark of intestinal homeostasis and requires a tightly regulated balance between intestinal stem cell (ISC) proliferation and differentiation. Since intestinal epithelial cells directly contact pathogenic environmental factors that continuously challenge their integrity, ISCs must also actively divide to facilitate regeneration and repair. Understanding niche adaptations that maintain ISC activity during homeostatic renewal and injury-induced intestinal regeneration is therefore a major and ongoing focus for stem cell biology. Here, we review recent concepts and propose an active interconversion of the ISC niche between homeostasis and injury-adaptive states that is superimposed upon an equally dynamic equilibrium between active and reserve ISC populations.
Keywords: injury; interconversion; intestinal homeostasis; regeneration; stem cell niche.
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