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Stem Cells International
Volume 2017, Article ID 8387297, 10 pages
Review Article

Intestinal Stem Cell Niche Insights Gathered from Both In Vivo and Novel In Vitro Models

1Laboratory of Stem Cell Bioengineering, Institute of Bioengineering, School of Life Sciences (SV) and School of Engineering (ST), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland
2Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland

Correspondence should be addressed to Paloma Ordóñez-Morán; hc.lfpe@zenodro.amolap

Received 31 March 2017; Accepted 3 July 2017; Published 7 September 2017

Academic Editor: Karen Liu

Copyright © 2017 Nikolce Gjorevski and Paloma Ordóñez-Morán. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Intestinal stem cells are located at the base of the crypts and are surrounded by a complex structure called niche. This environment is composed mainly of epithelial cells and stroma which provides signals that govern cell maintenance, proliferation, and differentiation. Understanding how the niche regulates stem cell fate by controlling developmental signaling pathways will help us to define how stem cells choose between self-renewal and differentiation and how they maintain their undifferentiated state. Tractable in vitro assay systems, which reflect the complexity of the in vivo situation but provide higher level of control, would likely be crucial in identifying new players and mechanisms controlling stem cell function. Knowledge of the intestinal stem cell niche gathered from both in vivo and novel in vitro models may help us improve therapies for tumorigenesis and intestinal damage and make autologous intestinal transplants a feasible clinical practice.