Compartmentalised expression of meprin in small intestinal mucosa: enhanced expression in lamina propria in coeliac disease

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Abstract

Epithelial cells in the human small intestine express meprin, an astacin-like metalloprotease, which accumulates normally at the brush border membrane and in the gut lumen. Therefore, meprin is targeted towards luminal components. In coeliac disease patients, peptides from ingested cereals trigger mucosal inflammation in the small intestine, disrupting epithelial cell differentiation and function. Using in situ hybridisation on duodenal tissue sections, we observed a marked shift of meprin mRNA expression from epithelial cells, the predominant expression site in normal mucosa, to lamina propria leukocytes in coeliac disease. Meprin thereby gains access to the substrate repertoire present beneath the epithelium.

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