Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Disposable Liners

Immune cells target stem cells in the destruction of intestinal lining cells that occurs before renewal

30 January 2020

Disposable Liners

Your intestine’s lining of cells, or epithelium, is replaced roughly once a week, like a used bin bag. As a result, a constant supply is needed – running out of bin bags is serious business – and when the resupply is disrupted, major problems can arise. This can happen in patients who have received bone marrow transplants to fight off illness, as the newly arrived immune cells launch a misguided attack on intestinal cells. To better understand the process, researchers looked at newly transplanted mice and cells in artificial organs in the lab, and found the immune cells directly target the stem cells that give rise to epithelial cells (epithelial cells derived from intestinal stem cells in red in the mouse intestine cross section pictured). They also found that a particular set of proteins can protect the stem cell collection from attack, which could ultimately help safeguard the supply in recovering patients.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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