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J Biomed Biotechnol. 2010;2010:305879. doi: 10.1155/2010/305879. Epub 2010 Jan 31.

Molecular modulation of intestinal epithelial barrier: contribution of microbiota.

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  • 1Division of Neonatology, University of Florida at Jacksonville, FL 32209, USA.


The daunting task required of the gut-barrier to prevent luminal pathogens and harmful substances from entering into the internal milieu and yet promoting digestion and absorption of nutrients requires an exquisite degree of coordination between the different architectural units of this barrier. The complex integration and execution of these functions are superbly carried out by the intestinal mucosal (IM) surface. Exposed to trillions of luminal microbes, the IM averts threats by signaling to the innate immune system, through pattern recognition receptors (PRR), to respond to the commensal bacteria by developing tolerance (hyporesponsiveness) towards them. This system also acts by protecting against pathogens by elaborating and releasing protective peptides, cytokines, chemokines, and phagocytic cells. The IM is constantly sampling luminal contents and making molecular adjustments at its frontier. This article describes the topography of the IM and the mechanisms of molecular adjustments that protect the internal milieu, and also describes the role of the microbiota in achieving this goal.

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