Purpose of review
To summarize the recent knowledge regarding intestinal proteases and the gut barrier.
It is now well established that intestinal proteases, such as matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, MMP-3, MMP-10 and MMP-12, are key players in the development of ulcers in inflammatory bowel disease, have direct effects on epithelial barrier function and are involved in epithelial restitution. However, more recent work has suggested that the membrane-anchored epithelial cell serine protease matriptase is critical in maintaining the gut barrier, and roles have also been described for elastase, MMP-13, gelatinases, mast cell proteases and proteases derived from parasites and gut bacteria. Interestingly, epithelial proteases often co-localize with epithelial adherens junctions, and nonepithelial-derived proteases have junctional proteins as targets.
The role of proteases in controlling normal barrier function in the gut is now becoming very clear, to go alongside their role in intestinal inflammation.