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Tissue Barriers. 2017 Oct 2;5(4):e1343172. doi: 10.1080/21688370.2017.1343172. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

The impact of aging on epithelial barriers.

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a Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology , School of Medicine, University of Missouri , Columbia , MO , USA.


The epithelium has many critical roles in homeostasis, including an essential responsibility in establishing tissue barriers. In addition to the fundamental role in separating internal from external environment, epithelial barriers maintain nutrient, fluid, electrolyte and metabolic waste balance in multiple organs. While, by definition, barrier function is conserved, the structure of the epithelium varies across organs. For example, the skin barrier is a squamous layer of cells with distinct structural features, while the lung barrier is composed of a very thin single cell to minimize diffusion space. With the increased focus on age-dependent alterations in organ structure and function, there is an emerging interest in the impact of age on epithelial barriers. This review will focus on the impact of aging on the epithelial barrier of several organs, including the skin, lung, gastrointestinal tract and the kidney, at a structural and functional level.


aging; barrier; cadherin; catenin; epithelial; permeability; tight junction

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