Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic relapsing-remitting inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract with an unknown etiology, and its incidence is increasing worldwide. Recent advances in immunomodulatory therapeutic agents such as biologics and small-molecule inhibitors have improved the prognosis of patients with IBD. However, some patients are refractory and resistant to these immunomodulatory therapies, and new therapies are needed. Given the importance of the intestinal epithelium in IBD pathogenesis, the difficulty of culturing intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) for long periods remains an obstacle in IBD research. Over the past 15 years, intestinal stem cells have been identified, and the in vivo microenvironment, called the niche, required for their maintenance has been elucidated, making the permanent culture of IECs possible. Recapitulating the niche in vitro, the intestinal epithelium forms 3-dimensional structures called organoids that simulate the intestinal epithelium in vivo. The intestinal epithelium plays an important role in the intestinal barrier and immunomodulatory functions and serves as a physical structure that separates the intestinal lumen from the body. Recent studies have revealed that functional disruption of the intestinal epithelium is closely related to the pathogenesis of IBD, and IBD research using organoids has attracted attention. In this review, we discuss the application of adult tissue-derived organoids culture technology to elucidate the pathogenesis of IBD and to develop novel therapies, including regenerative treatments.
Keywords: Crohn’s disease; inflammatory bowel disease; intestinal stem cells; organoids; regenerative medicine; ulcerative colitis.
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