3 years ago

A slippery slope: On the origin, role and physiology of mucus

A slippery slope: On the origin, role and physiology of mucus
The mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract, eyes, nose, lungs, cervix and vagina is lined by epithelium interspersed with mucus-secreting goblet cells, all of which contribute to their unique functions. This mucus provides an integral defence to the epithelium against noxious agents and pathogens. However, it can equally act as a barrier to drugs and delivery systems targeting epithelial passive and active transport mechanisms. This review highlights the various mucins expressed at different mucosal surfaces on the human body, and their role in creating a mucoid architecture to protect epithelia with specialized functions. Various factors compromising the barrier properties of mucus have been discussed, with an emphasis on how disease states and microbiota can alter the physical properties of mucus. For instance, Akkermansia muciniphila, a bacterium found in higher levels in the gut of lean individuals induces the production of a thickened gut mucus layer. The aims of this article are to elucidate the different physiological, biochemical and physical properties of bodily mucus, a keen appreciation of which will help circumvent the slippery slope of challenges faced in achieving effective mucosal drug and gene delivery.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0169409X17302399

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