Author(s): Cornick S, Tawiah A, Chadee K
Abstract Share this page
Abstract The gastrointestinal tract is coated by a thick layer of mucus that forms the front line of innate host defense. Mucus consists of high molecular weight glycoproteins called mucins that are synthesized and secreted by goblet cells and functions primarily to lubricate the epithelium and protect it from damage by noxious substances. Recent studies have also suggested the involvement of goblet cells and mucins in complex immune functions such as antigen presentation and tolerance. Under normal physiological conditions, goblet cells continually produce mucins to replenish and maintain the mucus barrier; however, goblet cell function can be disrupted by various factors that can affect the integrity of the mucus barrier. Some of these factors such as microbes, microbial toxins and cytokines can stimulate or inhibit mucin production and secretion, alter the chemical composition of mucins or degrade the mucus layer. This can lead to a compromised mucus barrier and subsequently to various pathological conditions like chronic inflammatory diseases. Insight into how these factors modulate the mucus barrier in the gut is necessary in order to develop strategies to combat these disorders.
This article was published in Tissue Barriers
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology