Physiologic modulation of bronchial epithelial cell barrier function by polycationic exposure.

X. Y. Yu, B. H. Schofield, T. Croxton, N. Takahashi, E. W. Gabrielson, E. W. Spannhake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Bronchial epithelial cells provide a functional barrier to the movement of water and solutes between the luminal and interstitial compartments of the lung. Barrier integrity can be compromised by a variety of factors, including polycationic proteins released by inflammatory cells. We investigated the characteristics of epithelial barrier function and its modulation by cationic stimuli in canine bronchial epithelial (CBE) cells grown in culture. Morphologic characteristics were examined, and barrier function was assessed by measurements of transepithelial mannitol flux (flux) and electrical resistance (RT) during a stable, 3- to 14-day culture period. CBE cultures exhibited progressive mucociliary differentiation and contained nonciliated, ciliated, and neutral and acidic mucin-secretory cells. The synthetic polycation, poly-L-lysine (PLL), from 2.5 to 10 micrograms/ml, caused dose-related increases in flux and decreases in RT that were not accompanied by detectable release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) or changes in histochemical appearance. The effect on RT spontaneously reversed over a 15-h recovery period. The action of PLL on flux was not attenuated by treatment of the cells to stabilize cytoskeletal contractile elements but was immediately attenuated by the addition of heparin to the challenged cells. These results indicate that modulation of the barrier integrity of bronchial epithelial cells by cationic proteins, such as those released by inflammatory cells, represents a physiologic process that may be regulated by endogenous anionic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-198
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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