Regulation of Tight Junction Permeability by Intestinal Bacteria and Dietary Components

D. Ulluwishewa, R.C. Anderson, W.C. McNabb, P.J. Moughan, J. Wells, N.C. Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

543 Citations (Scopus)


The human intestinal epithelium is formed by a single layer of epithelial cells that separates the intestinal lumen from the underlying lamina propria. The space between these cells is sealed by tight junctions (TJ), which regulate the permeability of the intestinal barrier. TJ are complex protein structures comprised of transmembrane proteins, which interact with the actin cytoskeleton via plaque proteins. Signaling pathways involved in the assembly, disassembly, and maintenance of TJ are controlled by a number of signaling molecules, such as protein kinase C, mitogen-activated protein kinases, myosin light chain kinase, and Rho GTPases. The intestinal barrier is a complex environment exposed to many dietary components and many commensal bacteria. Studies have shown that the intestinal bacteria target various intracellular pathways, change the expression and distribution of TJ proteins, and thereby regulate intestinal barrier function. The presence of some commensal and probiotic strains leads to an increase in TJ proteins at the cell boundaries and in some cases prevents or reverses the adverse effects of pathogens. Various dietary components are also known to regulate epithelial permeability by modifying expression and localization of TJ proteins. J. Nutr. 141: 769-776, 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-776
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • epithelial barrier function
  • caco-2 cell monolayers
  • protein-kinase-c
  • transepithelial electrical-resistance
  • light-chain phosphorylation
  • necrosis-factor-alpha
  • adhesion molecule
  • absorption enhancement
  • transmembrane proteins
  • membrane-protein

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