The cells making up the intestinal tract represent one of the five primary continuously proliferating and self-renewing stem cell systems of the body.
The primary functional unit of the intestine is the intestinal epithelium in which the base of the crypts contain the stem cells. The organization of the intestinal epithelium is similar to that of the hematopoietic system in that there is a stem cell compartment, a progenitor and precursor compartment consisting of primitive differentiating cells with varying degrees of proliferation potential and ability. This is followed by the maturation compartment before the cells die and exfoliate into the lumen of the intestine.
The intestinal epithelium is closely associated via cell-to-cell interaction with the underlying microenvironment composed of mesenchymal cells.
The study of the intestinal tract has been histological and microscopic multidimensional in nature.
Intestinal epithelium has been subjected to 2D and 3D cultures, although the latter, like many 3D culture systems, are difficult to manipulate. Intestinal epithelium for culture is available from several species as well as human. The cells are usually grown on an adherent matrix. Despite the similarities between the intestinal and other stem cell systems, biological markers have not been as forthcoming for the intestinal system.
Nevertheless, the ability to culture and quantitatively measure proliferation potential and ability of subpopulations within the intestinal epithelium is the initiation point for further studies. Reliably measuring proliferation of these subpopulations and combination with other functional and genetic endpoints provides important insights into the response of the intestinal epithelium to agents and perturbations.
Preferred Cell Systems™ provides the means to initiate such studies using cell proliferation markers that have been proven for many other cell systems described on this website.
Assays kits available for studying the intestinal epithelium are:
- EpiGLO™ using ATP bioluminescence as the proliferation marker.
- EpiCLONE™, a clonal proliferation and differentiation assay system employing the EpiGlo™ ATP proliferation marker.
- EpiFLUOR™ using fluorescence as the metabolic proliferation marker.
- EpiLIGHT™ using absorbance as the metabolic proliferation marker.