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Exp Mol Med. 2017 May 26;49(5):e338. doi: 10.1038/emm.2017.20.

Roles of intestinal epithelial cells in the maintenance of gut homeostasis.

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Laboratory of Immune Regulation, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Graduate School of Medicine, WPI Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.


The intestine is a unique organ inhabited by a tremendous number of microorganisms. Intestinal epithelial cells greatly contribute to the maintenance of the symbiotic relationship between gut microbiota and the host by constructing mucosal barriers, secreting various immunological mediators and delivering bacterial antigens. Mucosal barriers, including physical barriers and chemical barriers, spatially segregate gut microbiota and the host immune system to avoid unnecessary immune responses to gut microbes, leading to the intestinal inflammation. In addition, various immunological mediators, including cytokines and chemokines, secreted from intestinal epithelial cells stimulated by gut microbiota modulate host immune responses, maintaining a well-balanced relationship between gut microbes and the host immune system. Therefore, impairment of the innate immune functions of intestinal epithelial cells is associated with intestinal inflammation.

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