Glucose stimulates intestinal epithelial crypt proliferation by modulating cellular energy metabolism

Weinan Zhou, Deepti Ramachandran, Abdelhak Mansouri, Megan J. Dailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The intestinal epithelium plays an essential role in nutrient absorption, hormone release, and barrier function. Maintenance of the epithelium is driven by continuous cell renewal by stem cells located in the intestinal crypts. The amount and type of diet influence this process and result in changes in the size and cellular make-up of the tissue. The mechanism underlying the nutrient-driven changes in proliferation is not known, but may involve a shift in intracellular metabolism that allows for more nutrients to be used to manufacture new cells. We hypothesized that nutrient availability drives changes in cellular energy metabolism of small intestinal epithelial crypts that could contribute to increases in crypt proliferation. We utilized primary small intestinal epithelial crypts from C57BL/6J mice to study (1) the effect of glucose on crypt proliferation and (2) the effect of glucose on crypt metabolism using an extracellular flux analyzer for real-time metabolic measurements. We found that glucose increased both crypt proliferation and glycolysis, and the glycolytic pathway inhibitor 2-deoxy-d-glucose (2-DG) attenuated glucose-induced crypt proliferation. Glucose did not enhance glucose oxidation, but did increase the maximum mitochondrial respiratory capacity, which may contribute to glucose-induced increases in proliferation. Glucose activated Akt/HIF-1α signaling pathway, which might be at least in part responsible for glucose-induced glycolysis and cell proliferation. These results suggest that high glucose availability induces an increase in crypt proliferation by inducing an increase in glycolysis with no change in glucose oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3465-3475
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • glucose
  • intestinal epithelial crypt
  • metabolism
  • proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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