The master regulators of gut stem cells, called intestinal myofibroblasts, have pumps that protect them, and thus the gut, from the toxic effects of a wide range of compounds, including the anticancer drug tamoxifen, according to an investigation led by Duke-NUS Medical School.
“We have identified a unique population of cells that are master regulators of gut stem cells. These important support cells are uniquely protected from drugs and toxins in the diet,” explains Professor David Virshup, director of Duke-NUS’ Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Research Programme and one of the study’s authors. “This allows you to take strong medicines and eat spicy foods without affecting your gut stem cell population. These master regulator cells are intrinsically drug resistant.”
The intestinal lining is made of epithelial cells that live only three to five days, are continuously replaced, and can regenerate following injury. This continuous replacement is due to the presence of stem cells in crypts found within the intestinal lining. The cells surrounding these crypts provide a supportive microenvironment that controls stem cell function. Some of these supporting cells, including myofibroblasts, make signalling molecules called Wnt proteins. The proteins combine with receptors on stem cells to control the expression
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