A new model of intestinal epithelial regeneration: could patients benefit? Dotti I. and Salas A. nature Reviews: Gastroenterology and Hepatology

IBDs are characterised by flare-up phases followed up by remission periods. During the relapse stages, the epithelial barrier that covers the intestinal mucosa is injured and when the flare-up remits, stem cells that reside at the base of each intestinal crypt are activated to restore the epithelium. These recurring episodes of regeneration alter the epithelium and can impair the healing process over time, and consequently, there is a growing interest in unravelling the role of epithelium during IBD. In vitro cultures of intestinal epithelium cells are an essential tool to study this feature; regretfully, there is a shortage of cell culture models that can reproduce the regeneration process with accuracy.

This review by researchers from IDIBAPS, one of the partners of the New Deal project, introduces a new cell culture system capable of mimicking key aspects of the injury and repair cycles of the mouse intestinal epithelial layer. This model is based on air-liquid interphase, allowing researchers to trigger a low oxygen state, in which the epithelial cells acquire features that mimic those of injured crypts in vivo. This innovation overcomes the issues that have hindered previous primary cell cultures and shows many potential applications of new therapeutic approaches for IBD.