Damaged epithelial septa Leaky gut: 2 billion people are sick with damage to the epithelium

Humans are exposed to many environmental substances and chemicals. According to the epithelial septum hypothesis, many substances damage the epithelium, which is the protective layer of the skin, lungs, and intestine, causing it to leak. As a result, nearly two billion chronic diseases such as allergies, autoimmunity, neurodegenerative diseases and mental illnesses develop or worsen, according to the results of a recent study.

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The epithelial septum of the skin protects against intruders. Defective barriers are responsible for the increase in autoimmune and allergic diseases.

(Photo: © Microgen – stock.adobe.com)

Zurich / Switzerland – The epithelium forms the outer limits of the human body. In the skin, intestines, or lungs in particular, this layer protects the underlying tissues from intruders – such as bacteria, viruses, environmental toxins, pollutants and allergens. If the skin barriers and mucous membranes are damaged and leaked, the bacteria, for example, migrate to the tissues and lead to localized inflammation that is often chronic. This has direct and indirect consequences.

Chronic diseases due to damage to the epithelial septum

Now Seismy Akdis, Director of the Swiss Institute for Research of Allergy and Asthma (SIAF) associated with the University of Zurich (UZH), summarizes the current state of knowledge in the scientific journal Nature Reviews Immunology. “According to the epithelial septum hypothesis, damage to the protective epithelial cell layers is responsible for nearly 2 billion chronic and non-infectious diseases,” says Professor UZH Akdis. In the past 20 years, the SIAF alone has written more than 60 publications on how different substances damage the epithelium of different organs.

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An explanation of increased allergies and autoimmune diseases

The epithelial septum hypothesis provides an explanation for the rise in autoimmune diseases and allergies for decades: it is the result of industrialization, urbanization, and Western lifestyle. Because many people today are exposed to many toxic substances such as ozone, nanoparticles, plastic particles, cleaning agents, pesticides, enzymes, emulsions, fine dust, exhaust gases, cigarette smoke, and countless chemicals in the air, food and water. Akdis asserts: “In addition to global warming and viral epidemics such as Covid-19, these harmful substances represent one of the biggest threats to humanity.”

From A for asthma to Z for celiac disease

The straight and evident epithelial septum of normal bronchial epithelial cells (above) and infiltrated and damaged asthmatic epithelial cells (below).
The straight and evident epithelial septum of normal bronchial epithelial cells (above) and infiltrated and damaged asthmatic epithelial cells (below).

(Bild: Seismic Acades)

Localized epithelial defects of the skin and mucous membranes lead to allergies, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease. Septal impairment also leads to many other diseases characterized by changes in bacterial communities in the tissues. Either the immune system mistakenly fights the “good” bacteria in a healthy body, or it is directed against the invading organisms that cause diseases, that is, the “bad” germs.

I Intestines Leaky epithelial barriers and a disturbed balance of the microbiome – all types of bacteria – contribute to disease outbreaks and exacerbations. Autoimmune diseases and chronic metabolic diseases In, for example, from

Plus, there is, too Nervous or mental illness How

Associated with leaky epithelial barriers. They can be caused by distant inflammatory reactions and changes in The gut microbiome Raised or amplified.

In healthy mice, the red protein (desmoplakin) is incorporated into the desmosomes by enterocytes (left).  The defective insulin signaling pathway causes the protein to remain in the cell plasma

More research, new treatments, targeted nutrition

“It is extremely important to continue researching epithelial barriers in order to better understand molecular mechanisms and to develop new approaches to prevention, early intervention and treatment,” Akdis says. New treatments should aim to strengthen tissue barriers, prevent bacterial penetration or prevent pathogen colonization. One strategy is to influence the microbiome – for example through targeted nutrition. Last but not least, it is important to avoid exposure to harmful substances as much as possible and to develop less toxic products.

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Original post: Seismy A. Acades. Does the epithelial septum hypothesis explain the increase in sensitivity, autoimmunity, and other chronic conditions? Nature Reviews Immunology. April 12, 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-021-00538-7

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