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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Oct 11;440(1):143-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.09.049. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

The protective effect of trefoil factor 3 on the intestinal tight junction barrier is mediated by toll-like receptor 2 via a PI3K/Akt dependent mechanism.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China.


Trefoil factor peptides are highly conserved secreted molecules characterized by heat and enzymatic digestion resistance. Intestinal trefoil factor 3 (TFF3) protects and repairs the gastrointestinal mucosa and restores normal intestinal permeability, which is dependent on the integrity of the tight junction (TJ) barrier and the TJ associated proteins claudin-1, zona occludens-1 (ZO-1) and occludin. Despite the important role of intestinal barrier dysfunction in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases, the underlying mechanisms and associated molecules remain unclear. In the present study, we show that TFF3 and toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) are functionally linked and modulate intestinal epithelial permeability via a mechanism that involves the PI3K/Akt pathway. We used the Caco-2 cell model to show that TLR2 and TFF3 inhibit the IL-1β induced increase in permeability and release of proinflammatory cytokines, and that this effect is mediated by activation of PI3K/Akt signaling. TLR2 silencing downregulated the expression of TFF3 and overexpression of TLR2 and TFF3 increased the levels of phospho-Akt. TFF3 overexpression significantly upregulated the expression of ZO-1, occludin and claudin-1 and this effect was abrogated by inhibition of the PI3K/Akt pathway. Taken together, our results indicate that TLR2 signaling selectively enhances intestinal TJ barrier integrity through a mechanism involving TFF3 and the activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Intestinal permeability; Intestinal tight junction; Toll-like receptor 2; Trefoil factor 3

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