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Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas

versión impresa ISSN 1130-0108


SALVO-ROMERO, Eloísa et al. The intestinal barrier function and its involvement in digestive disease. Rev. esp. enferm. dig. [online]. 2015, vol.107, n.11, pp.686-696. ISSN 1130-0108.

The gastrointestinal mucosal surface is lined with epithelial cells representing an effective barrier made up with intercellular junctions that separate the inner and the outer environments, and block the passage of potentially harmful substances. However, epithelial cells are also responsible for the absorption of nutrients and electrolytes, hence a semipermeable barrier is required that selectively allows a number of substances in while keeping others out. To this end, the intestine developed the "intestinal barrier function", a defensive system involving various elements, both intra- and extracellular, that work in a coordinated way to impede the passage of antigens, toxins, and microbial byproducts, and simultaneously preserves the correct development of the epithelial barrier, the immune system, and the acquisition of tolerance against dietary antigens and the intestinal microbiota. Disturbances in the mechanisms of the barrier function favor the development of exaggerated immune responses; while exact implications remain unknown, changes in intestinal barrier function have been associated with the development of inflammatory conditions in the gastrointestinal tract. This review details de various elements of the intestinal barrier function, and the key molecular and cellular changes described for gastrointestinal diseases associated with dysfunction in this defensive mechanism.

Palabras clave : Intestinal barrier; Tight junctions; Intestinal immune.

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