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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 947072, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/947072
Review Article

Regulation of Tight Junctions in Upper Airway Epithelium

1Department of Pathology, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8556, Japan
2Department of Otolaryngology, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8556, Japan
3Department of Pediatrics, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8556, Japan
4Department of Microbiology, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8556, Japan

Received 7 July 2012; Accepted 29 August 2012

Academic Editor: Mouldy Sioud

Copyright © 2013 Takashi Kojima et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The mucosal barrier of the upper respiratory tract including the nasal cavity, which is the first site of exposure to inhaled antigens, plays an important role in host defense in terms of innate immunity and is regulated in large part by tight junctions of epithelial cells. Tight junction molecules are expressed in both M cells and dendritic cells as well as epithelial cells of upper airway. Various antigens are sampled, transported, and released to lymphocytes through the cells in nasal mucosa while they maintain the integrity of the barrier. Expression of tight junction molecules and the barrier function in normal human nasal epithelial cells (HNECs) are affected by various stimuli including growth factor, TLR ligand, and cytokine. In addition, epithelial-derived thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), which is a master switch for allergic inflammatory diseases including allergic rhinitis, enhances the barrier function together with an increase of tight junction molecules in HNECs. Furthermore, respiratory syncytial virus infection in HNECs in vitro induces expression of tight junction molecules and the barrier function together with proinflammatory cytokine release. This paper summarizes the recent progress in our understanding of the regulation of tight junctions in the upper airway epithelium under normal, allergic, and RSV-infected conditions.