Send to

Choose Destination
Pharm Res. 2007 Jul;24(7):1336-45. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

Melittin as an epithelial permeability enhancer I: investigation of its mechanism of action in Caco-2 monolayers.

Author information

Institute of Technology Tallaght Dublin, Belgard Road, Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland.



Melittin is an amphipathic antimicrobial peptide which has been shown to enhance the permeability of mannitol and reduce transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) across Caco-2 monolayers. The aim of this work was to further examine the potential of melittin as a paracellular permeability enhancer and to investigate the mechanism of interaction with tight junction proteins in Caco-2.


The permeability of a range of fluorescent markers of differing molecular weights across monolayers was examined and immunofluorescence and western blotting analysis of tight junction proteins were also carried out. The mechanism of TER reduction was also examined using cell signalling inhibitors.


Apical but not basolateral addition of melittin increased the permeability of a range FITC-dextrans (4-70 kDa) across monolayers. Melittin effects were reversible and no cytotoxicity was evident in polarized Caco-2 epithelia at the concentrations used. Altered expression of ZO-1, E-cadherin and F-actin was also detected. The phospholipase A2 inhibitors, aristolochic acid and indomethacin and the cyclooxygenase inhibitor, piroxicam, partially attenuated melittin-induced TER reduction, suggesting that part of the mechanism by which melittin opens tight junctions involves prostaglandin signalling.


Apically-added melittin opens tight junctions, causing dramatic TER reductions with significant increases in flux of dextrans. These effects appear mediated in part via PLA2 and involve alterations in specific tight junction proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center