The pivotal role of epithelial cells is to secrete and absorb ions and water in order to allow the formation of a luminal fluid compartment that is fundamental for the epithelial function as a barrier against environmental factors. Importantly, epithelial cells also take part in the innate immune system. As a first line of defense they detect pathogens and react by secreting and responding to chemokines and cytokines, thus aggravating immune responses or resolving inflammatory states. Loss of epithelial anion transport is well documented in a variety of diseases including cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, pancreatitis, and cholestatic liver disease. Here we review the effect of aberrant anion secretion with focus on the release of inflammatory mediators by epithelial cells and discuss putative mechanisms linking these transport defects to the augmented epithelial release of chemokines and cytokines. These mechanisms may contribute to the excessive and persistent inflammation in many respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology