Suprabasal cells retain progenitor cell identity programs in eosinophilic esophagitis-driven basal cell hyperplasia

JCI Insight. 2023 Oct 9;8(19):e171765. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.171765.


Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is an esophageal immune-mediated disease characterized by eosinophilic inflammation and epithelial remodeling, including basal cell hyperplasia (BCH). Although BCH is known to correlate with disease severity and with persistent symptoms in patients in histological remission, the molecular processes driving BCH remain poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that BCH is predominantly characterized by an expansion of nonproliferative suprabasal cells that are still committed to early differentiation. Furthermore, we discovered that suprabasal and superficial esophageal epithelial cells retain progenitor identity programs in EoE, evidenced by increased quiescent cell identity scoring and the enrichment of signaling pathways regulating stem cell pluripotency. Enrichment and trajectory analyses identified SOX2 and KLF5 as potential drivers of the increased quiescent identity and epithelial remodeling observed in EoE. Notably, these alterations were not observed in gastroesophageal reflux disease. These findings provide additional insights into the differentiation process in EoE and highlight the distinct characteristics of suprabasal and superficial esophageal epithelial cells in the disease.

Keywords: Allergy; Bioinformatics; Gastroenterology; Inflammation; Molecular biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis* / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / pathology

Supplementary concepts

  • Eosinophilic enteropathy