Background: Many food components influence intestinal epithelial barrier properties and might therefore also affect susceptibility to the development of food allergies. Such allergies are triggered by increased antibody production initiated in Peyer’s patches (PP). Usually, the presentation of antigens in the lumen of the gut to the immune cells of the PP is strongly regulated by the follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) that covers the PP. As the food component caprate has been shown to impede barrier properties in villous epithelium, we hypothesized that caprate also affects the barrier function of the PP FAE, thereby possibly contributing a risk factor for the development of food allergies. Methods: In this study, we have focused on the effects of caprate on the barrier function of PP, employing in vitro and ex vivo experimental setups to investigate functional and molecular barrier properties. Incubation with caprate induced an increase of transepithelial resistance, and a marked increase of permeability for the paracellular marker fluorescein in porcine PP to 180% of control values. These effects are in accordance with changes in the expression levels of the barrier-forming tight junction proteins tricellulin and claudin-5. Conclusions: This barrier-affecting mechanism could be involved in the initial steps of a food allergy, since it might trigger unregulated contact of the gut lumen with antigens.
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