About the image: The esophagus has a multilayered epithelium that provides protection against a number of stimuli, including food, bacteria, and stomach acid. Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is an allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus characterized by profound changes to the differentiation program that establishes these epithelial layers.
In their study, Rochman et al. used single cell RNA-seq to explore gene expression in biopsies of human esophageal epithelium from individuals with active EoE, those in remission, and healthy controls. The investigators identified six epithelial populations and defined their cellular trajectory and spatial localization.
During active EoE, epithelial differentiation was blocked, as reflected by reduction of differentiated cell populations and expansion of proliferating and transitioning cell populations. Changes in differentiation were accompanied by transcription factor dysregulation in differentiated cells.
In individuals with EoE in remission, epithelium more closely resembled active EoE epithelium than control epithelium, suggesting that cells remain poised to relapse during disease remission.
The data provide a framework for larger studies to investigate the complex contribution of the esophageal epithelium to EoE pathogenesis.
The cover image shows an ex vivo colony derived from stem cell-enriched podoplaninhi basal epithelial cells, with staining for keratin 5 (red), E-cadherin (green), and DNA (blue).
Image credit: Mark Rochman, Chris Woods, and Marc Rothenberg
The Research Horizons blog features news and insights about the latest discoveries and innovations developed by the scientists of Cincinnati Children's. This blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.