Dysfunction of the intestinal epithelial barrier and leakage of luminal antigens and bacteria across the barrier have been linked to various human diseases. Intestinal permeability is regulated by intercellular structures, termed “tight junction” (Tj), which are disrupted after total-body irradiation (TBI). In this study, we investigated radiation-induced alterations in Tj-related proteins in the jejunum, ileum and colon of a non-human primate (NHP) model. NHPs were total-body irradiated with 6.7 and 7.4 Gy and intestines were procured at day 4, 7 and 12. Radiation exposure was found to induce significant increases in claudin-10 mRNA early (day 4) in all three gut segments and claudin-4 mRNA levels were repressed through day 12. TNF-alpha was highly induced in the jejunum and colon at early time points, but little induction was found in the ileum. Claudin-1 was induced only in the colon on day 4 postirradiation. Unlike the colon and jejunum, the ileum levels of claudin-7 were significantly downregulated through day 12 postirradiation. Western blot analysis revealed increased levels of claudin-2 on day 4 and of JAM-1 on day 7 postirradiation in all three gut segments. E-cadherin was downregulated on day 4 postirradiation in all segments, but remained reduced in the jejunum only until day 12. Taken together, these data suggest that exposure to radiation causes segment-specific alterations in the expression of Tj-related proteins. Interruption of Tjs may be a key factor contributing to injury to the intestinal mucosal barrier and increased intestinal permeability.
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Vol. 185 • No. 1