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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010 Jun;298(6):G851-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00327.2009. Epub 2010 Mar 11.

Regulation of human epithelial tight junction proteins by Lactobacillus plantarum in vivo and protective effects on the epithelial barrier.

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Host-Microbe Interactomics Group, Univ. of Wageningen, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Lactobacillus plantarum, a commensal bacterium of humans, has been proposed to enhance the intestinal barrier, which is compromised in a number of intestinal disorders. To study the effect of L. plantarum strain WCFS1 on human barrier function, healthy subjects were administered L. plantarum or placebo in the duodenum for 6 h by means of a feeding catheter. The scaffold protein zonula occludens (ZO)-1 and transmembrane protein occludin were found to be significantly increased in the vicinity of the tight-junction (TJ) structures, which form the paracellular seal between cells of the epithelium. In an in vitro model of the human epithelium, L. plantarum induced translocation of ZO-1 to the TJ region; however, the effects on occludin were minor compared with those seen in vivo. L. plantarum was shown to activate Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) signaling, and treatment of Caco-2 monolayers with the TLR2 agonist Pam(3)-Cys-SK4(PCSK) significantly increased fluorescent staining of occludin in the TJ. Pretreatment of Caco-2 monolayers with L. plantarum or PCSK significantly attenuated the effects of phorbol ester-induced dislocation of ZO-1 and occludin and the associated increase in epithelial permeability. Our results identifying commensal bacterial stimulation of TLR2 in the gut epithelium as a regulator of epithelial integrity have important implications for understanding probiotic mechanisms and the control of intestinal homeostasis.

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