, Volume 68, Issue 22, pp 3635-3641
Date: 25 Sep 2011

Composition and functional role of the mucus layers in the intestine

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Abstract

In discussions on intestinal protection, the protective capacity of mucus has not been very much considered. The progress in the last years in understanding the molecular nature of mucins, the main building blocks of mucus, has, however, changed this. The intestinal enterocytes have their apical surfaces covered by transmembrane mucins and the whole intestinal surface is further covered by mucus, built around the gel-forming mucin MUC2. The mucus of the small intestine has only one layer, whereas the large intestine has a two-layered mucus where the inner, attached layer has a protective function for the intestine, as it is impermeable to the luminal bacteria.