The McCauley Lab investigates how enteroendocrine cells (EECs) sense and transmit environmental cues like nutrients to neighboring intestinal cells, regulating their physiology, metabolism, and function. EECs are rare cells, only making up about 1% of the intestinal epithelium, but are required for normal nutrient absorption and intestinal function. In their absence, patients suffer from malabsorptive diarrhea and failure to thrive. Moreover, EECs are frequently abnormal or dysregulated in inflammatory bowel diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. EECs secrete approximately 20 distinct hormones and other bioactive products, which are well-known to act systemically on organs such as the brain and the pancreas. The focus of the McCauley lab is to investigate the local effects of EECs on the intestine itself, using mouse and human pluripotent stem cell-derived intestinal organoid model systems.
Relevance of Research to CGIBD Mission: Dysfunction of EECs is a hallmark of numerous digestive diseases, and it is the goal of the McCauley lab to understand how EECs contribute to intestinal function in homeostasis, pathogenesis, and regeneration. Moreover, the ability of EECs to communicate with multiple tissue types makes our research inherently multidisciplinary.
CGIBD Focus Area(s): Regenerative Medicine/Repair
Collaborators: Magness, Scott