Mature enteroendocrine cells contribute to basal and pathological stem cell dynamics in the small intestine

Yoshitatsu Sei, Jianying Feng, Leigh Samsel, Ayla White, Xilin Zhao, Sajung Yun, Deborah Citrin, J. Philip McCoy, Sinju Sundaresan, Michael M. Hayes, Juanita L. Merchant, Andrew Leiter, Stephen A. Wank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Lgr5-expressing intestinal stem cells (ISCs) maintain continuous and rapid generation of the intestinal epithelium. Here, we present evidence that dedifferentiation of committed enteroendocrine cells (EECs) contributes to maintenance of the epithelium under both basal conditions and in response to injury. Lineage-tracing studies identified a subset of EECs that reside at +4 position for more than 2 wk, most of which were BrdU-label-retaining cells. Under basal conditions, cells derived from these EECs grow from the bottom of the crypt to generate intestinal epithelium according to neutral drift kinetics that is consistent with dedifferentiation of mature EECs to ISCs. The lineage tracing of EECs demonstrated reserve stem cell properties in response to radiation- induced injury with the generation of reparative EEC-derived epithelial patches. Finally, the enterochromaffin (EC) cell was the predominant EEC type participating in these stem cell dynamics. These results provide novel insights into the +4 reserve ISC hypothesis, stem cell dynamics of the intestinal epithelium, and in the development of EC-derived small intestinal tumors. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The current manuscript demonstrating that a subset of mature enteroendocrine cells (EECs), predominantly enterochromaffin cells, dedifferentiates to fully functional intestinal stem cells (ISCs) is novel, timely, and important. These cells dedifferentiate to ISCs not only in response to injury but also under basal homeostatic conditions. These novel findings provide a mechanism in which a specified cell can dedifferentiate and contribute to normal tissue plasticity as well as the development of EEC-derived intestinal tumors under pathologic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G495-G510
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Dedifferentiation
  • Enterochromaffin
  • Enteroendocrine
  • HopX
  • Intestine
  • Irradiation
  • NeuroD1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Mature enteroendocrine cells contribute to basal and pathological stem cell dynamics in the small intestine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this