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Influence of polyunsaturated fatty acids
on intestinal barrier function during colitis

*Corresponding author
1. Food Nutrition Genomics Team, Agri-Foods & Health Section, Food & Textiles Group AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North, New Zealand
2. Food & Textiles Group, AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North, New Zealand
3. Riddet Institute, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
All authors are part of Nutrigenomics New Zealand (


Tight junction proteins are important for intestinal homeostasis. They prevent paracellular transport of large moleculesand maintain cell polarity. Impaired tight junction function leads to a more permeable intestinal epithelial barrier and thereforepotentially increases disease risk. Limited information is available concerning the effects of food components on the intestinal barrier, particularly paracellular permeability and tight junction proteins. In vitro studies with intestinal epithelial cells and in vivostudies using animal models have demonstrated that dietary n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly n-3, can reduce intestinal inflammation and permeability. PUFAs can induce transcriptional regulators which may act in combinationwith their target molecules in defense against oxidative stress, thereby maintaining the intestinal barrier function. More studiesthat take into account the type and/or amount of individual fatty acids are needed in order to elucidate the molecularmechanisms of PUFAs on intestinal epithelial barrier function.


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