Maintaining Intestinal Epithelial Integrity During Inflammation Through Autophagy

Maintaining Intestinal Epithelial Integrity During Inflammation Through Autophagy

Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved “self-devouring” process by which cells may degrade intracellular components, and is particularly important for recycling intracellular materials during periods of stress or starvation. In addition, it is also important in other physiological roles, such as the intracellular immune response. Autophagy genes such as ATG16L1 have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); however, it is not known how autophagy regulates tissue homeostasis in the inflamed intestine.

Dr. Johanna Pott and colleagues in the Maloy Lab use cell-specific knockouts of the ATG16L1 gene in mice and intestinal stem cell (IEC) organoids to discover that autophagy was required in IECs to limit TNF-induced apoptosis in the epithelium during inflammatory conditions. Their work highlights the important role of autophagy in maintaining barrier integrity, by limiting cell death to reduce inflammation, and reveals a link between apoptosis and autophagy in intestinal epithelial cells. Additionally, the study indicates the potential role of anti-TNF based treatments in IBD patients in boosting epithelial barrier integrity.

Derek Xu

Pott J, Kabat AM, Maloy KJ. (2018).

Cell Host Microbe 23(2):191-202.e4.