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Physiol Rev. 2007 Apr;87(2):545-64.

Restoration of barrier function in injured intestinal mucosa.

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Department of Clinical Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27606, USA.


Mucosal repair is a complex event that immediately follows acute injury induced by ischemia and noxious luminal contents such as bile. In the small intestine, villous contraction is the initial phase of repair and is initiated by myofibroblasts that reside immediately beneath the epithelial basement membrane. Subsequent events include crawling of healthy epithelium adjacent to the wound, referred to as restitution. This is a highly regulated event involving signaling via basement membrane integrins by molecules such as focal adhesion kinase and growth factors. Interestingly, however, ex vivo studies of mammalian small intestine have revealed the importance of closure of the interepithelial tight junctions and the paracellular space. The critical role of tight junction closure is underscored by the prominent contribution of the paracellular space to measures of barrier function such as transepithelial electrical resistance. Additional roles are played by subepithelial cell populations, including neutrophils, related to their role in innate immunity. The net result of reparative mechanisms is remarkably rapid closure of mucosal wounds in mammalian tissues to prevent the onset of sepsis.

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