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Am J Physiol. 1999 Sep;277(3):C351-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1999.277.3.C351.

Innate mechanisms of epithelial host defense: spotlight on intestine.

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Section of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois and West Side Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


The single layer of epithelial cells lining the intestinal tract is charged with a most difficult task: protecting the underlying biological compartments from both the normal commensal flora that reside within the intestinal lumen as well as the uninvited pathogens. To such an end, the intestinal epithelial cells are equipped with a panoply of defense mechanisms, both constitutive and inducible. This review focuses only on those defense mechanisms that are initiated and executed by the intestinal epithelial cell. Fitting these strict criteria are three major categories of epithelial host defense: enhanced salt and water secretion, expression of antimicrobial proteins and peptides, and production of intestinal mucins. Each of these areas is discussed in this review.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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