Research ArticleBARRIER DYSFUNCTION

The antiprotease SPINK7 serves as an inhibitory checkpoint for esophageal epithelial inflammatory responses

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Science Translational Medicine  06 Jun 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 444, eaap9736
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aap9736

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Breaching the barrier

Epithelial integrity is crucial for maintaining functionality in many bodily systems. Disruption of epithelial barriers can lead to allergies, infection, or cancer metastasis. One type of allergy, eosinophilic esophagitis, damages the esophagus and can make eating very difficult. Azouz et al. observed a decrease in the serine protease inhibitor SPINK7 in eosinophilic esophagitis patient biopsies. In vitro experiments revealed that dampening of SPINK7 allowed protease disruption of epithelial cells and inflammatory cytokine production. Treatment of SPINK7-silenced cells with a broad-spectrum antiserine protease restored homeostasis, suggesting that protease inhibitors could be helpful in eosinophilic esophagitis therapy.