Deciphering the 'black box' of the intestinal stem cell niche: Taking direction from other systems

Monica R. Walker, Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Study of developmental signaling pathways suggests that the intestinal stem cell niche regulates the activity of the crypt-based epithelial progenitors during homeostasis and injury states. The cellular origin of these signals, however, remains poorly defined. Here, we examine the current state of knowledge regarding intestinal epithelial progenitor niches and highlight applicable lessons learned from other systems. RECENT FINDINGS: Cell-cell contact, regulatory factor delivery, stem cell polarity, and mesenchymal stem cells are considered. SUMMARY: Based on the findings in other niche systems as well as the overall complexity and unique organization of the intestinal progenitor niche, future studies will focus on defining peri-cryptal architecture, cellular sources of regulatory factors, and the dynamic nature of the niche during homeostasis and injury repair. These insights may lead to novel cell-based therapies for a variety of conditions that damage the mucosal lining of the gut.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent opinion in gastroenterology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Epithelium
  • Intestine
  • Mesenchymal stem cell
  • Niche
  • Stem cell


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