The glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor: a novel regulator of intestinal barrier function in health and disease

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2016 Jun 1;310(11):G1118-23. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00125.2016. Epub 2016 May 5.


Regulation of the intestinal epithelial barrier is a differentiated process, which is profoundly deranged in inflammatory bowel diseases. Recent data provide evidence that the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is critically involved in intestinal epithelial wound healing and barrier maturation and exerts antiapoptotic effects under certain conditions. Furthermore, not only the enteric nervous system, but also enterocytes synthesize GDNF in significant amounts, which points to a potential para- or autocrine signaling loop between enterocytes. Apart from direct effects of GDNF on enterocytes, an immunomodulatory role of this protein has been previously assumed because of a significant reduction of inflammation in a model of chronic inflammatory bowel disease after application of GDNF. In this review we summarize the current knowledge of GDNF on intestinal epithelial barrier regulation and discuss the novel role for GDNF as a regulator of intestinal barrier functions in health and disease.

Keywords: GDNF; differentiation; enterocyte; intestinal barrier; junction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*


  • Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor