Role of mast cells and probiotics in the regulation of intestinal barrier function
Sammanfattning: The intestinal mucosa is the largest contact area and one of the most important barriers to the outside environment. It is highly specialized in aiding us digest and absorb nutrients. It is daily exposed to several potentially dangerous substances and microorganisms, which if they were allowed to pass into the body, could give rise to diseases. Throughout the small intestine certain sites specialized in antigen sampling are found. These sites are named Peyer’s patches and are lymphoid follicles. The epithelium covering the Peyer’s patches is called follicle-associated epithelium and is specialized in antigen sampling and uptake. The special epithelium enables presentation of luminal antigen to immune cells in the underlying follicle.Persistent life stress and stressful life events affect the course of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) through largely unknown mechanisms. Regulation of epithelial permeability to antigens is crucial for the balance between inflammation and immune-surveillance, and increased intestinal permeability has been shown in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and corticotropin-releasing factor have been implicated as important mediators of stress-induced abnormalities in intestinal mucosal functions in animal models. Both of these mediators have been reported to regulate bowel ion secretion in humans during stress and uptake of horseradish peroxidase in rodents. Probiotics have been shown to ameliorate the deleterious effects of stress on intestinal function, but mechanisms remain to be elucidated.The aim of this thesis was to elucidate whether mast cells play an important role in intestinal barrier function during stress and inflammation. Moreover, we wanted to determine whether probiotics can ameliorate the mucosal barrier integrity during stress and inflammation.To study the function of mast cells we conducted in vitro experiments on cell lines and ex vivo experiments in Ussing chambers on mouse, rat and human intestinal tissue. The Ussing chamber technique measures electrophysiological properties of the tissue and also gives the possibility to study transcellular and paracellular passage of markers and bacteria. Immunohistology and confocal microscopy have been used to identify mast cells and receptors of interest.Our results show that stress affects the follicle-associated epithelium barrier by mechanisms involving VIP and mast cells. These findings were corroborated by the localization of VIP receptors on mucosal mast cells. Furthermore, pretreatment with probiotics was effective in protecting the gut against stress-induced intestinal barrier dysfunction and mucosal inflammation. This protection appeared to involve a mast cell and peroxisome proliferatoractivated receptor-? dependent mechanism.
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