Arachidonic Acid Promotes Intestinal Regeneration by Activating WNT Signaling

Stem Cell Reports. 2020 Aug 11;15(2):374-388. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2020.06.009. Epub 2020 Jul 9.


Intestinal regeneration is crucial for functional restoration after injury, and nutritional molecules can play an important role in this process. Here, we found that arachidonic acid (AA) serves as a direct proliferation promoter of intestinal epithelial cells that facilitates small intestinal regeneration in both three-dimensional cultured organoids and mouse models. As shown in the study, during post-irradiation regeneration, AA positively regulates intestinal epithelial cell proliferation by upregulating the expression of Ascl2 and activating WNT signaling, but negatively regulates intestinal epithelial cell differentiation. AA acts as a delicate regulator that efficiently facilitates epithelial tissue repair by activating radiation-resistant Msi1+ cells rather than Lgr5+ cells, which are extensively considered WNT-activated crypt base stem cells. Additionally, short-term AA treatment maintains optimal intestinal epithelial homeostasis under physiological conditions. As a result, AA treatment can be considered a potential therapy for irradiation injury repair and tissue regeneration.

Keywords: WNT signaling; arachidonic acid; differentiation; fatty acids; intestinal stem cells; irradiation injury; proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / radiation effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / radiation effects
  • Intestine, Small / cytology
  • Intestine, Small / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Organoids / cytology
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Regeneration / drug effects*
  • Regeneration / radiation effects
  • Spheroids, Cellular / cytology
  • Spheroids, Cellular / drug effects
  • Spheroids, Cellular / radiation effects
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway* / drug effects
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway* / radiation effects


  • Ascl2 protein, mouse
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Arachidonic Acid