The epithelial layer of our intestines must meet two opposing requirements. On one hand it must allow for efficient uptake of nutrients and fluids, on the other hand it is a vital defence barrier between the milieu interior and the milieu exterior. In contrast to the lung that by virtue of cilia movement is kept virtually sterile, the gut epithelium is confronted by a stupendous microbiological load and a substantial xenobiotic challenge. The efficiency by which our intestinal epithelium manages to deal with the challenge of efficient nutrient absorption while simultaneously fulfilling its barrier function is testimony to what the forces of evolution can accomplish. Importantly, our understanding as to how our gut epithelial compartment manages this balancing act is now rapidly emerging, answering one of the oldest questions in cell biology. Importantly, when aberrations in this balance occur, for instance as a consequence genetic polymorphisms, increased propensity to develop chronic inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease is the result. Thus the knowledge on intestinal cell biology and biochemistry is not only of academic interest but may also aid design of novel avenues for the rational treatment of mucosal disease.

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The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Deuring, J., de Haar, C., Kuipers, E., Peppelenbosch, M., & van der Woude, J. (2013). The cell biology of the intestinal epithelium and its relation to inflammatory bowel disease. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology (Vol. 45, pp. 798–806). doi:10.1016/j.biocel.2012.12.020