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Differentiation. 1987;36(1):71-85.

Intestinal tissue and cell cultures.

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INSERM Unité 61 (Biologie Cellulaire et Physiopathologie Digestive), Strasbourg, France.


The culture of animal cells and tissues is a widely used technique in the field of cellular and molecular biology; one of the most interesting aspect being linked to the study of the mechanisms of cell differentiation. In the specific case of intestinal epithelial cells, various tissue culture technologies have proved to be important tools for the study of precise facets related to intestinal function, pathology and differentiation. Concerning this latter aspect, organ culture experiments have brought about interesting data on the hormonal or nutritional control of intestinal maturation. Nevertheless, the study of the precise mechanisms underlying epithelial proliferation and/or differentiation at the cellular level needs more adequate cell culture model systems. One of them has been described for two cell lines derived from human colonic adenocarcinomas, in which the cells can be induced to achieve enterocytic-like differentiation. Up to date, none of the continuous cell lines starting from normal undifferentiated cells have allowed generation of morphological or functional enterocytic polarity. In contrast, primary cell cultures which allow maintenance of a more physiological environment for the epithelial cells like contacts with their in vivo counterparts, mesenchymal cells or extracellular matrix molecules, have proved to be promising approaches.

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