The Atlas Of Human Intestinal Hormones Was Compiled For The First Time
Dutch scientists for the first time compiled an Atlas and gave a detailed description of the hormones that produce human intestinal cells. According to the authors, this will create new methods of treating diabetes and obesity. The results of the study are published in the journal Cell.
Thousands of so-called enteroendocrine cells scattered throughout the gastrointestinal tract, reacting to certain components of food, and bacteria produce various hormones that create a feeling of hunger or satiety, coordinate the contraction of intestinal muscles and stimulate the restoration of the protective cell layer of the intestine.
These cells are difficult to study because they are very small, no more than one percent of all intestinal wall cells and they are unique to different types of organisms, that is, human hormones can not be studied on the example of laboratory animals.
Researchers from the Hambrecht Institute and Utrecht University in the Netherlands have developed a special method for studying human hormone-producing cells in tiny organoids that mimic the gut, grown in the laboratory from human stem cells.
By increasing the activity of a gene called neurogenin-3, scientists were able to dramatically increase the number of enteroendocrine cells in these mini-intestines, while recreating all their subtypes. Another innovative technique was the color-coding of hormone-producing cells of different types, which made it possible to study ten major hormones in different combinations in one organoid at once.
Using the so-called individual cell sequencing technique, the authors described for the first time all the genes that are active in various types of human hormone-producing cells. Based on this data, they created the first Atlas of human gut hormones.
The results revealed the importance of the functioning of enteroendocrine cells of certain genes that have not been previously described, as well as potentially new hormones that have not been identified before in the gut.
"The compiled Atlas is a gold mine full of fascinating connections between hormones, receptors, and other genes used by well-defined enteroendocrine cells. This opens up new directions for future research," one of the authors of the study, Jens Puschhof, from the Hambrecht Institute, said in a press release.
Using the created tool, scientists plan to conduct large-scale screening studies to study which molecules in our food are recognized by which types of enteroendocrine cells, and what hormones these cells produce in response.
"The ability to simultaneously observe a large number of human enteroendocrine cells and track their subtypes using fluorescent colors in organoids allows screening for target drugs that can tap the therapeutic potential of enteroendocrine cells," said study leader Hans Clevers.
Intestinal hormones, such as ghrelin-the the hunger hormone-serve as the main communication tool between the intestines and other organs — the brain and pancreas. In response, for example, the pancreas begins to produce insulin.
One of the most successful treatments for type 2 diabetes is based on stimulating the gut hormone GLP1. Thanks to this treatment, some patients' blood glucose levels are normalized without insulin injections.