Probiotics, Prebiotics and Epithelial Tight Junctions: A Promising Approach to Modulate Intestinal Barrier Function
[Review of ]. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES, 22(13).
Disruptions in the intestinal epithelial barrier can result in devastating consequences and a multitude of disease syndromes, particularly among preterm neonates. The association between barrier dysfunction and intestinal dysbiosis suggests that the intestinal barrier function is interactive with specific gut commensals and pathogenic microbes. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate that probiotic supplementation promotes significant upregulation and relocalization of interepithelial tight junction proteins, which form the microscopic scaffolds of the intestinal barrier. Probiotics facilitate some of these effects through the ligand-mediated stimulation of several toll-like receptors that are expressed by the intestinal epithelium. In particular, bacterial-mediated stimulation of toll-like receptor-2 modulates the expression and localization of specific protein constituents of intestinal tight junctions. Given that ingested prebiotics are robust modulators of the intestinal microbiota, prebiotic supplementation has been similarly investigated as a potential, indirect mechanism of barrier preservation. Emerging evidence suggests that prebiotics may additionally exert a direct effect on intestinal barrier function through mechanisms independent of the gut microbiota. In this review, we summarize current views on the effects of pro- and prebiotics on the intestinal epithelial barrier as well as on non-epithelial cell barrier constituents, such as the enteric glial cell network. Through continued investigation of these bioactive compounds, we can maximize their therapeutic potential for preventing and treating gastrointestinal diseases associated with impaired intestinal barrier function and dysbiosis.