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Toxicol Lett. 2012 Jun 20;211(3):289-95. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2012.04.012. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

Pro-inflammatory NF-κB and early growth response gene 1 regulate epithelial barrier disruption by food additive carrageenan in human intestinal epithelial cells.

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Laboratory of Systems Mucosal Biomodulation, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Yangsan, Republic of Korea.


The widely used food additive carrageenan (CGN) has been shown to induce intestinal inflammation, ulcerative colitis-like symptoms, or neoplasm in the gut epithelia in animal models, which are also clinical features of human inflammatory bowel disease. In this study, the effects of CGN on pro-inflammatory transcription factors NF-κB and early growth response gene 1 product (EGR-1) were evaluated in terms of human intestinal epithelial barrier integrity. Both pro-inflammatory transcription factors were elevated by CGN and only NF-κB activation was shown to be involved in the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-8. Moreover, the integrity of the in vitro epithelial monolayer under the CGN insult was maintained by both activated pro-inflammatory transcription factors NF-κB and EGR-1. Suppression of NF-κB or EGR-1 aggravated barrier disruption by CGN, which was associated with the reduced gene expression of tight junction component zonula occludens 1 and its irregular localization in the epithelial monolayer.

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