Is there a Role for Human Pluripotent Stem Cells in Modelling Interstitial Cells of Cajal and Gut Motility Disorders?
Gastrointestinal motility disorders affect millions of people worldwide, resulting in significant morbidity and
mortality. Current treatments for these disorders are inadequate and often provide little to no relief for patients. As a result,
gastrointestinal motility disorders produce substantial long-term social and economic burdens in both developed and
developing countries. These limited treatment options arise largely from our relatively poor understanding of the molecular
etiology for the majority of gastrointestinal motility disorders. In turn, this is due to our limited access to normal or
diseased human gut tissue for use in research. In particular while the interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are known to be important
for gastrointestinal motility, little is known of how these cells function or how they are involved in disease initiation
and progression. The advent of human pluripotent stem cell technology offers an opportunity to generate large
amounts of human tissue for both research and clinical applications. The application of this technology to gastrointestinal
motility disorders is currently only in its infancy and as yet no studies have described ICC production from human pluripotent
cells. By considering the present understanding of the anatomical, cellular and molecular basis of gut motility with
particular emphasis on ICC, this review provides a clear framework for the application of human pluripotent stem cell
technology to answer fundamental questions of ICC involvement in gut motility.
Keywords: Embryonic stem cells, gastrointestinal motility disorder, ICC, interstitial cells of Cajal, patient specific stem cells,
pluripotent stem cells.
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport