Mucosal immunity and inflammation V. Innate mechanisms of mucosal defense and repair: The best offense is a good defense

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206 Scopus citations


Well-coordinated mechanisms have evolved that provide both innate protection against gastrointestinal mucosal injury and facilitation of rapid mucosal repair following mucosal damage. Generic protection from injury is provided by intrinsic structural features of the epithelium that form a highly competent barrier and a complex formed at the apical surface by trefoil peptides that comprise the interface between mucosa and lumen. When the epithelial barrier has been broken, regardless of the nature of the injury, epithelial surface continuity is rapidly reestablished through restitution as cells migrate and elongate. This process is promoted by trefoil peptides at the apical surface and a large array of cytokines and growth factors acting at the basolateral pole. Many of these regulatory peptides are products of the immune and other lamina propria cell populations, which are activated following disruption of the mucosal barrier. Thus efforts to repair the epithelium follow inherently from inflammatory effects after initial damage; the repair process in turn may allow abrogation of further inflammation. Ultimate repair of injury requires both proliferative replacement of damaged epithelial cells and remodeling of extracellular matrix and deeper cell populations to restore normal architecture and a fully functional mucosa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G495-G499
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3 40-3
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Cytokines
  • Epithelial barrier
  • Growth factors
  • Restitution
  • Trefoil proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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