The intestinal epithelium is a layer of cells that lines the intestines forming a vital barrier between the contents of the intestines and the interior of our bodies. The breakdown of this barrier functionally and physically contributes to the development of IBD.
Dr. MacNaughton's team has been studying the various components that make up the epithelial barrier in both health and disease. One component of the barrier is the ability of some epithelial cells to secrete water.
The secretion of water can act to prevent the movement of bacteria into the wall of the intestine where they may trigger or prolong an inflammatory response. The team's research program has studied the cellular mechanisims involved in the secretion of water. Their work focuses on the specific pathways water uses to cross the epithelium during the secretory response. They want to know how these pathways are regulated normally and more importantly, how this regulaion is altered in IBD.
It's now recognized that water transport across epithelia occurs primarily through specific water channel proteins or aquaporins.
The team of researchers has charactorized the types of aquaporins that are present in intestinal epithelial cells. The work also shows that aquaporins are important in the movement of water that occurs during the secretory response. The focus is now to understand how those channels might be regulated to increase or decrease water secretion.
Using intestinal epithelial cells in their experiments, imaging techniques are used to show how these proteins move in the epithelial cells when they are stimulated by various chemicals known to induce secretion.
When these experiments are complete, the next step will be to see how aquaporins move in cells that are exposed to experimental inflammatory conditions.
The work will give a better understanding of how components of the epithelial barrier are affected by or contribute to the development of inflammation. The hope is to find ways to prevent epithelial barrier dysfunction in order to prevent flares of inflammation in IBD.
This is extreamly encouraging news from the CCFC research and with the funding period being from2006-2009 I hope by next yr they have a complete understanding of this in order to bring us many steps closer to a cure.
My bum is broken....there's a big crack down the middle of it! LOL :)
Post Edited (pb4) : 4/13/2008 1:38:56 AM (GMT-6)