Epithelial transport in inflammatory bowel diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The epithelium of the gastrointestinal tract is one of the most versatile tissues in the organism, responsible for providing a tight barrier between dietary and bacterial antigens and the mucosal and systemic immune system while maintaining efficient digestive and absorptive processes to ensure adequate nutrient and energy supply. Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) are associated with a breakdown of both functions, which in some cases are clearly interrelated. In this updated literature review, we focus on the effects of intestinal inflammation and the associated immune mediators on selected aspects of the transepithelial transport of macronutrients and micronutrients. The mechanisms responsible for nutritional deficiencies are not always clear and could be related to decreased intake, malabsorption, and excess losses. We summarize the known causes of nutrient deficiencies and the mechanism of inflammatory bowel disease-associated diarrhea. We also overview the consequences of impaired epithelial transport, which infrequently transcend its primary purpose to affect the gut microbial ecology and epithelial integrity. Although some of those regulatory mechanisms are relatively well established, more work needs to be done to determine how inflammatory cytokines can alter the transport process of nutrients across the gastrointestinal and renal epithelia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1099-1109
Number of pages11
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Colitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Electrolytes
  • Epithelial cells
  • Inflammation
  • Microbiome
  • Nutrients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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