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Keywords:

  • Acute organ rejection;
  • enteroendocrine cell;
  • intestinal stem cell;
  • Neuro D;
  • Neurogenin-3;
  • NEUROG3;
  • NOD2;
  • small bowel transplantation;
  • PYY;
  • GLP-1

Acute small intestinal allograft rejection presents clinically as an abrupt increase in ileal fluid output in the absence of extensive inflammation. We questioned whether acute intestinal rejection might be accompanied by a disturbance of normal intestinal stem cell differentiation. We examined the intestinal epithelial secretory cell lineage among patients experiencing early rejection before and during rejection as well as following corrective therapy. Lineage-specific progenitors were identified by their expression of stage-specific transcription factors. Progenitors of the enteroendocrine cell (EEC) expressing neurogenin-3 (NEUROG3) were found to be disproportionately reduced in numbers, along with their more mature EEC derivatives expressing neuro D; the enteric hormone PYY was the most profoundly depleted of all the EEC products evaluated. No change in the numbers of goblet or Paneth cells was observed. Steroid treatment resulted in resolution of clinical symptoms, restoration of normal patterns of EEC differentiation and recovery of normal levels of enteric hormones. Acute intestinal rejection is associated with a loss of certain subtypes of EEC, most profoundly, those expressing PYY. Deficiency of the mature EECs appears to occur as a consequence of a mechanism that depletes NEUROG3 EEC progenitors. Our study highlights the dynamics of the EEC lineage during acute intestinal rejection.