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Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Aug 15;80(4):431-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.04.033. Epub 2010 May 10.

Role of eicosanoids on intestinal epithelial homeostasis.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Barcelona, Spain.


The intestinal epithelium is a highly dynamic system that is continuously renewed by a process involving cell proliferation and differentiation. Moreover, it is the main interface with the external environment, and maintenance and regulation of the epithelial structure and epithelial barrier function are key determinants of digestive health and host well being. The tight junction, a multiprotein complex composed of transmembrane proteins associated with the cytoskeletal peri-junctional ring of actin and myosin, is an essential component of this barrier that is strictly regulated in a spatio-temporal manner by a complex signaling network. Defects in the intestinal epithelial barrier function have been observed in inflammatory bowel disease, and a classic example of the connection between inflammation and cancer is the increased risk of colorectal cancer in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. In recent years, several molecules have emerged as critical players contributing to inflammation-associated colorectal cancer. For example, eicosanoids derived from arachidonic acid are proposed as mediators involved in the regulation of epithelial structure/function. Interestingly, the tissue concentration of eicosanoids increases during mucosal inflammation and colorectal cancer development. This overview focuses on the physiological and physiopathological roles of eicosanoids in cell growth/cell differentiation/apoptosis and in the paracellular permeability of the intestinal epithelium. A better understanding of these processes will foster new ideas for the development of therapies for these chronic disorders.

2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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