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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Jan;15(1):19-33. doi: 10.1038/nrm3721. Epub 2013 Dec 11.

Adult intestinal stem cells: critical drivers of epithelial homeostasis and regeneration.

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A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology, 8A Biomedical Grove, 06-06 Immunos, 138648 Singapore. MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, The University of Edinburgh, 5 Little France Drive, Edinburgh EH16 4UU, UK. Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 117596 Singapore.


Small populations of adult stem cells are responsible for the remarkable ability of the epithelial lining of the intestine to be efficiently renewed and repaired throughout life. The recent discovery of specific markers for these stem cells, together with the development of new technologies to track endogenous stem cell activity in vivo and to exploit their ability to generate new epithelia ex vivo, has greatly improved our understanding of stem cell-driven homeostasis, regeneration and cancer in the intestine. These exciting new insights into the biology of intestinal stem cells have the potential to accelerate the development of stem cell-based therapies and ameliorate cancer treatments.

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