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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2000 Nov;23(5):602-9.

Enhanced epithelial gene transfer by modulation of tight junctions with sodium caprate.

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Departments of Pharmacology and Medicine, and Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


The airway epithelium is resistant to infection by gene transfer vectors when infected from the luminal surface. One strategy for enhancing airway epithelial gene transfer is to modify paracellular permeability, thereby permitting the diffusion of vectors to the basolateral surface, where uptake receptors are expressed. We investigated the ability of a medium-chain fatty acid known to enhance drug absorption, sodium caprate (C10), to increase airway paracellular permeability in comparison with ethyleneglycol-bis-(beta-aminoethyl ether)-N,N'-tetraacetic acid (EGTA). Apical application of C10 decreased transepithelial resistance by > 90% within minutes, whereas EGTA required an hour or more to produce a similar effect. C10 increased mannitol and dextran permeability by sevenfold, as compared with a twofold increase produced by EGTA. A greater enhancement of adenoviral lacZ gene transfer was mediated by C10 (50-fold over controls) than by EGTA (10-fold over controls). This correlated with a significant enhancement of adenoviral CFTR-mediated correction of Cl(-) transport in polarized human airway epithelial (HAE) cells from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Confocal microscopy revealed a redistribution of claudin-1 following C10 but not EGTA treatment as a possible mechanism of gene-transfer enhancement by C10. These data suggest that C10 may be a better agent for enhancing gene transfer than is EGTA, and that this effect occurs through disruption of claudin-1.

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