BACKGROUND: The small intestinal epithelium functions both to absorb nutrients, and to provide a barrier between the outside, luminal, world and the human body. One of the passageways across the intestinal epithelium is paracellular diffusion, which is controlled by the properties of tight junction complexes. We used a differentiated Caco-2 monolayer as a model for small intestinal epithelium to study the effect of crude apple extracts on paracellular permeability. RESULTS: Exposure of crude apple homogenate to the differentiated Caco-2 cells increased the paracellular resistance, determined as trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER). This increase was linearly related to the concentration of apple present. The TEER-enhancing effect of apple extract was due to factors mainly present in the cortex, and the induction was not inhibited by protein kinase inhibitors. Apple-induced resistance was accompanied by increased expression of several tight junction related genes, including claudin 4 (CLDN4). CONCLUSION: Crude apple extract induces a higher paracellular resistance in differentiated Caco-2 cells. Future research will determine whether these results can be extrapolated to human small intestinal epithelia
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