Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) causes a spontaneously reversible increase in tight junction permeability. TNF was the only cytokine tested that produced this effect. The effect on transepithelial permeability proceeds in four distinct phases: 1) a 60- to 90-min delay from time of application of TNF, 2) a rapid decrease in transepithelial resistance, 3) a recovery of transepithelial resistance to control level within 1 h, and 4) a further increase of transepithelial resistance above control levels. The recovery of transepithelial resistance occurs with or without TNF in the culture medium. Different protein kinase inhibitors affected different phases of this overall process. The tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein significantly blocked the TNF effect. Neither transcription nor protein synthesis was required for transepithelial permeability to increase, but were required for the recovery. After the tight junctions have opened at 2 h in response to TNF, a second application of TNF will not produce the effect again for at least 12 h. The tight junctions will, however, open in response to phorbol esters during this time frame. Electron microscopy studies using apically applied ruthenium red suggest that TNF action results in < 10% of the junctions having increased permeability at any given time during the resistance decrease. The role of epithelial barrier permeability changes in TNF action in vivo is discussed.
- Copyright © 1992 the American Physiological Society