Intestinal stem cells and intestinal homeostasis in health and in inflammation: A review

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Abstract

Background.

The human intestine is a complex group of organs, highly specialized in processing food and providing nutrients to the body. It is under constant threat from microbials and toxins and has therefore developed a number of protective mechanisms. One important mechanism is the constant shedding of epithelial cells into the lumen; another is the production and maintenance of a double-layered mucous boundary in which there is continuous sampling of the luminal microbiota and a persistent presence of antimicrobial enzymes. However, the gut needs commensal bacteria to effectively break down food into absorbable nutrients, which necessitates constant communication between the luminal bacteria and the intestinal immune cells in homeostasis. Disruption of homeostasis, for whatever reason, will give rise to (chronic) inflammation.

Discussion.

Both medical and surgical management of this disruption is discussed.

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