Tight junctions and the modulation of barrier function in disease

Histochem Cell Biol. 2008 Jul;130(1):55-70. doi: 10.1007/s00418-008-0424-9. Epub 2008 Apr 16.


Tight junctions create a paracellular barrier in epithelial and endothelial cells protecting them from the external environment. Two different classes of integral membrane proteins constitute the tight junction strands in epithelial cells and endothelial cells, occludin and members of the claudin protein family. In addition, cytoplasmic scaffolding molecules associated with these junctions regulate diverse physiological processes like proliferation, cell polarity and regulated diffusion. In many diseases, disruption of this regulated barrier occurs. This review will briefly describe the molecular composition of the tight junctions and then present evidence of the link between tight junction dysfunction and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / ultrastructure
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability*
  • Disease / etiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Junctional Adhesion Molecules
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Occludin
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*
  • Tight Junctions / ultrastructure*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Junctional Adhesion Molecules
  • Membrane Proteins
  • OCLN protein, human
  • Occludin