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Intestinal Tuft Cells: Morphology, Function, and Implications for Human Health

Authors
  • Silverman, Jennifer B.
  • Vega, Paige N.
  • Tyska, Matthew J.
  • Lau, Ken S.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annual Review of Physiology
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
Feb 12, 2024
Volume
86
Pages
479–504
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-042022-030310
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Tuft cells are a rare and morphologically distinct chemosensory cell type found throughout many organs, including the gastrointestinal tract. These cells were identified by their unique morphologies distinguished by large apical protrusions. Ultrastructural data have begun to describe the molecular underpinnings of their cytoskeletal features, and tuft cell–enriched cytoskeletal proteins have been identified, although the connection of tuft cell morphology to tuft cell functionality has not yet been established. Furthermore, tuft cells display variations in function and identity between and within tissues, leading to the delineation of distinct tuft cell populations. As a chemosensory cell type, they display receptors that are responsive to ligands specific for their environment. While many studies have demonstrated the tuft cell response to protists and helminths in the intestine, recent research has highlighted other roles of tuft cells as well as implicated tuft cells in other disease processes including inflammation, cancer, and viral infections. Here, we review the literature on the cytoskeletal structure of tuft cells. Additionally, we focus on new research discussing tuft cell lineage, ligand-receptor interactions, tuft cell tropism, and the role of tuft cells in intestinal disease. Finally, we discuss the implication of tuft cell-targeted therapies in human health and how the morphology of tuft cells may contribute to their functionality.

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