Maintenance of gut barrier integrity after injury: Trust your gut microRNAs.

Affiliation

Morris NL(1)(2)(3)(4), Choudhry MA(1)(2)(3)(5).
Author information:
(1)Alcohol Research Program, Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division, Maywood, Illinois, USA.
(2)Burn & Shock Trauma Research Institute, Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division, Maywood, Illinois, USA.
(3)Integrative Cell Biology Program, Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division, Maywood, Illinois, USA.
(4)Current address: Department of Medicine: Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep, Emory University/Atlanta VA Medical Center, Decatur, Geogia, USA.
(5)Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division, Maywood, Illinois, USA.

Abstract

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a highly dynamic structure essential for digestion, nutrient absorption, and providing an interface to prevent gut bacterial translocation. In order to maintain the barrier function, the gut utilizes many defense mechanisms including proliferation, apoptosis, and apical junctional complexes. Disruption of any of these parameters due to injury or disease could negatively impact the intestinal barrier function and homeostasis resulting in increased intestine inflammation, permeability, bacterial dysbiosis, and tissue damage. MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNA sequences that are master regulators of normal cellular homeostasis. These regulatory molecules affect cellular signaling pathways and potentially serve as candidates for providing a mechanism of impaired gut barrier integrity following GI-related pathologic conditions, ethanol exposure, or trauma such as burn injury. MicroRNAs influence cellular apoptosis, proliferation, apical junction complex expression, inflammation, and the microbiome. Due to their widespread functional affiliations, altered expression of microRNAs are associated with many pathologic conditions. This review explores the role of microRNAs in regulation of intestinal barrier integrity. The studies reviewed demonstrate that microRNAs largely impact intestine barrier function and provide insight behind the observed adverse effects following ethanol and burn injury. Furthermore, these studies suggest that microRNAs are excellent candidates for therapeutic intervention or for biomarkers to manage gut barrier integrity following trauma such as burn injury and other GI-related pathologic conditions.