We are interested in the neuro-endocrine regulation of small intestinal barrier functions. The gastrointestinal mucosa, a single contiguous layer of epithelial cells, constitutes the body’s largest surface area. A critical function of this mucosa is to form a barrier separating the luminal contents from the interstitium. Dysregulation of the intestinal epithelial barrier increases access of infectious agents and dietary antigens to mucosal immune elements which can lead to increased epithelial immune reactions. A plausible theory is that disruption of intestinal barrier function is a key factor in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal diseases, but also other diseases such as diabetes mellitus.
Our research goal is to advance the knowledge of the regulation of the intestinal barrier. We are studying the role of gastrointestinal melatonin, and the effects of dietary products, on the regulation mucosal permeability, ion secretion, fluid absorption/secretion and intestinal motility. The goal is realized by combining in vivo physiology with different molecular techniques.