The intestinal epithelium is the fastest renewing tissue in mammals and has a large flexibility to adapt to different types of damage. Lgr5+ crypt base columnar (CBC) cells act as stem cells during homeostasis and are essential during regeneration. Upon perturbation, the activity of CBCs is dynamically regulated to maintain homeostasis and multiple dedicated progenitor cell populations can reverse to the stem cell state upon damage, adding another layer of compensatory mechanisms to facilitate regeneration. Here, we review our current understanding of how intestinal stem and progenitor cells contribute to homeostasis and regeneration, and the different signaling pathways that regulate their behavior. Nutritional state and inflammation have been recently identified as upstream regulators of stem cell activity in the mammalian intestine, and we explore how these systemic signals can influence homeostasis and regeneration.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
This work was supported by the Cancer Genomics Center (CGC) via the Netherlands Genomics Initiative/Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (H.C.); and the European Research Council (H.C.).