Culture and characterization of chicken small intestinal crypts

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The integrity and normal function of the small intestinal epithelium depends critically on the rapid renewal of epithelial cells from basal stem cells. The intensive proliferation that fuels this self-renewal process is confined to the intestinal crypts. Establishment of suitable protocols for crypt isolation and culture is pivotal for the studies of intestinal self-renewal mechanisms. In this study, chicken small intestinal crypts were isolated, purified, and further cultured in a Matrigel 3-D culture system. The growth factor concentration assay on the fourth d of culture showed that Group C (50 ng/mL epidermal growth factor (EGF), 100 ng/mL Noggin, and 500 ng/mL R-spondin 1) supplement in culture medium could significantly enlarge the diameter of organoids when compared with Group A (5 ng/mL EGF, 10 ng/mL Noggin, 50 ng/mL, and R-spondin 1) and Group B (10 ng/mL EGF, 20 ng/mL Noggin, and 100 ng/mL R-spondin 1) by 188.4% (P = 0.026) and 176.9% (P = 0.034), respectively. Transmission electron microscopy, neutral red staining, and 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine incorporation demonstrated the integrated structure, high viability, and proliferative activity in cultured chicken intestinal organoids. In addition, intestinal stem cell marker genes (Olfm4, Znrf3, Hopx, and Lgr5) also could be detected in cultured intestinal organoids. Furthermore, CHIR99021 (a glycogen synthase kinase 3β inhibitor) could enhance the expression of Olfm4, Znrf3, Hopx, and Lgr5 by 750% (P = 0.001), 467% (P < 0.001), 450% (P < 0.001), and 333% (P = 0.008), respectively, indicating the responsiveness of the cultured chicken intestinal organoids to exogenous stimulus. This study modified a murine culture model and optimized it to provide a chicken intestinal organoid model for use as a physiological or pathological research platform in vitro.

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