The intestine, together with skin and blood, belongs to the organs with the highest cell turnover, which makes it a perfect model to study cellular processes, such as proliferation and differentiation. Epithelial cell turnover in intestine is possible due to the presence of intestinal stem cells, which are located at the bottom of the crypt. Here, we recapitulate a detailed protocol for the isolation and culture procedures of primary epithelial intestinal cells in a three - dimensional (3D) in vitro system, described for the first time by Hans Clevers group (Sato et al., 2009). This specific 3D culture preserves intestinal stem cells, which give rise to differentiated progeny for example goblet cells. The culture has many applications and represents a useful model to study stem cell biology, epithelial cell regeneration, and transplantation studies. Moreover, the presented 3D culture can be used to investigate the barrier function of intestinal epithelial cells, as well as heterotypic cell interactions between epithelial cells and stromal cells.
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