About Careers Internship MedBlog Contact us

Chemo-Resistant Reservoir of Stem Cells Discovered in Intestine

Font : A-A+

  • A new reservoir of stem cells have been discovered in the intestine which are quiescent (dormant) in nature and do not proliferate.
  • These passive cells are activated when needed and have the capacity to produce any kind of intestinal cell.
  • Quiescent cells are important for tissue regeneration and for participation in tumor development.

Chemo-Resistant Reservoir of Stem Cells Discovered in Intestine

A new group of stem cells have been discovered in the intestine which have very different characteristics to those of the abundant and active stem cells already known in this organ.

These new group of stem cells in the intestine that are quiescent, which means they do not proliferate and are apparently dormant.


The rate of cellular regeneration in the intestine is higher due to the wear and tear originated by its function degrading and absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste. As a result the entire cell wall is renewed once a week.

This explains why the intestine holds a large number of stem cells in constant division, thereby producing new cell populations of the various types present in this organ.

The discovery was made by researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) headed by ICREA investigator Eduard Batlle, head of the Colorectal Cancer Laboratory.

Reservoir of Stem Cells

These reservoir of stem cells are found in the ratio of one quiescent cell for every 10 active intestinal stem cells.

They have no apparent function in healthy conditions. But they play an important role in situations of stress, like after chemotherapy, in inflammatory processes, and in tissue infections, in all conditions in which the population of "normal/active" stem cells is depleted.

These cells serve to regenerate the organ by:
  • giving rise to the various types of cells present in the intestine
  • renewing the population of "normal/active" stem cells
  • restoring balance to the tissue
"In intestinal cell hierarchy, there are no cells above others, so the two populations are in a continual balance to ensure the proper function of the organ," Eduard Batlle explains.

Role of Cells in Tumor Development

The cells that are dividing in the tissues are affected by drugs against cancer.

"Because quiescent stem cells divide infrequently, they are resistant to many types of chemotherapy and they regenerate the tissue that this treatment has damaged," explains Eduard Batlle, head of one of the labs of international prestige in research into intestinal stem cells and their involvement in colorectal cancer.

After chemotherapy, these cells change their behavior, become active and regenerate all cell types in the intestine.

Though quiescent cells are present in many kinds of tissue and they help in tissue regeneration, increasing evidence points to their involvement in tumor development.

"It is difficult to study these cells, mainly because they are scarce and there are technical limitations with respect to monitoring, straining and distinguishing them from the others," explains Francisco Barriga, first author of the study and current postdoctoral fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Using advanced techniques, the group has identified the distinct genetic program used by quiescent stem cells with respect to normal intestinal ones.

This cell population has been labeled with a specific marker, the Mex3a protein, which has allowed them to track it over time. "We intend to continue studying quiescent stem cells in health and disease and to discover the function of the genes that distinguish them in the colon and in other organs," says Batlle.

The study has been published in Cell Stem Cell.


  1. Francisco Barriga et al. Mex3a marks a slowly dividing subpopulation of Lgr5+ intestinal stem cells Cell Stem Cell . Cell Stem Cell>; (2017) doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2017.02.007

Source: Medindia

Citations   close

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Dr. Meenakshy Varier. (2017, March 10). Chemo-Resistant Reservoir of Stem Cells Discovered in Intestine. Medindia. Retrieved on Sep 24, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/chemo-resistant-reservoir-of-stem-cells-discovered-in-intestine-168488-1.htm.

  • MLA

    Dr. Meenakshy Varier. "Chemo-Resistant Reservoir of Stem Cells Discovered in Intestine". Medindia. Sep 24, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/chemo-resistant-reservoir-of-stem-cells-discovered-in-intestine-168488-1.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Dr. Meenakshy Varier. "Chemo-Resistant Reservoir of Stem Cells Discovered in Intestine". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/chemo-resistant-reservoir-of-stem-cells-discovered-in-intestine-168488-1.htm. (accessed Sep 24, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Dr. Meenakshy Varier. 2021. Chemo-Resistant Reservoir of Stem Cells Discovered in Intestine. Medindia, viewed Sep 24, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/chemo-resistant-reservoir-of-stem-cells-discovered-in-intestine-168488-1.htm.


News A-Z
What's New on Medindia
Test Your Knowledge About Chromosomes?
Eating During Sunlight Hours Minimizes Mood Vulnerabilities
Know More About the Digestive System
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Stem Cells - Cord Blood Stem Cells - Fundamentals Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Genetics and Stem Cells Bone Marrow Transplantation Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Stem Cells Stem Cell Therapy 

Most Popular on Medindia

Indian Medical Journals Color Blindness Calculator Find a Hospital Noscaphene (Noscapine) Turmeric Powder - Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects Post-Nasal Drip Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants Selfie Addiction Calculator Drug Side Effects Calculator Loram (2 mg) (Lorazepam)
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use

Chemo-Resistant Reservoir of Stem Cells Discovered in Intestine Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests