Molecular mechanism of intestinal permeability: interaction at tight junctions

Mol Biosyst. 2008 Dec;4(12):1181-5. doi: 10.1039/b800402a. Epub 2008 Oct 2.


The intestinal barrier plays a critical role in humans in the transport of nutrients and macromolecules. At the same time, it has to provide an effective barrier to harmful macromolecules and microorganisms. The tight junction (TJ) is an essential component of this barrier. The junctional complexes of the plasma membrane are not simply epithelial barriers in paracellular transport or barriers preventing diffusion in the plasma membrane, but also contain proteins involved in signal transduction and the maintenance of the physiological epithelial cell state. Occludin, claudin, junctional adhesion molecules, and the coxsackie virus and adenovirus receptor are the major components of TJs. This article highlights the structure and function of TJs as well as the molecular interactions occurring during permeation through TJs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Junctional Adhesion Molecules
  • Membrane Fluidity
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Tight Junctions / drug effects*
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism
  • Tight Junctions / physiology*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Junctional Adhesion Molecules
  • Membrane Proteins