Stem Cell-related Abnormalities May Predict Recurrence in Crohn’s Disease

Stem Cell-related Abnormalities May Predict Recurrence in Crohn’s Disease
Abnormalities in intestinal stem cell niches may predict recurrence in Crohn's disease, a new study suggests. These irregularities may result from problems with mitochondria — the so-called powerhouse of cells or the organelles important for providing energy to cells, among other functions. Targeting these mitochondrial problems may be an avenue for new treatments. The study, "Mitochondrial impairment drives intestinal stem cell transition into dysfunctional Paneth cells predicting Crohn’s disease recurrence," was published in the journal Gut. Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) are cells in the gut capable of renewing and differentiating into other types of cells. These cells are critical to gut health but, to function properly, they require a tightly regulated environment, termed the stem cell niche. In the intestine, Paneth cells help to guard and maintain the stem cell niche for ISCs. Previous studies have found fewer Paneth cells in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, and that their impaired function contributes to the development of Crohn's disease. Moreover, mitochondria are thought to be critical for ISC-renewal and differentiation. In the new study, a team led by researchers in Germany investigated the role of mitochondrial function for ISC niche-maintenance and Paneth cell numbers under inflammatory conditions. They first examined stem cell niches in a mouse model of Crohn's disease-like intestinal inflammation. They noticed fewer ISCs in the niches in regions with more inflammation. Simultaneously, there was evidence of reduced Paneth cell activity, based on the molecular markers expressed by the cells. "The parallel decrease of PC [Paneth cells] function and stemness indicates the tight functional interrelation of the ISC niche und
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