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Am J Physiol. 1990 Oct;259(4 Pt 1):G681-6.

Lipid binding to gastric mucin: protective effect against oxygen radicals.

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Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts 02118.


Gastric mucus forms a viscous gel overlying the gastric mucosa and is thought to protect the underlying mucosa from noxious agents such as acid, proteases, and bile salts. A common property of mucin, the principal glycoprotein in mucous secretions, is its ability to bind lipids. The purpose of this study was to determine if lipids bound to gastric mucin protect the mucin from oxygen radical attack. Pig gastric mucin, partially purified by Sepharose 4B gel chromatography, was found to contain large amounts of free fatty acids and cholesterol as well as lesser amounts of sphingomyelin and phospholipids. Purified mucin obtained by density-gradient ultracentrifugation in a CsCl gradient contained only trace amounts of fatty acids but no other lipids. Exposure to the oxygen radical-generating system iron/ascorbate caused a marked reduction in viscosity of purified mucin but did not affect partially purified mucin, suggesting that bound lipids shielded the mucin from attack by oxygen radicals. Using discontinuous sucrose-gradient ultracentrifugation in the presence of liposomes containing [3H]palmitic acid, we demonstrated that mucin is capable of binding fatty acids. We also observed a striking increase in solution viscosity of gastric mucin at low pH, a feature that might contribute to the ability of mucin to form a protective diffusion barrier for the underlying epithelium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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