IL-22 Increases Permeability of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions by Enhancing Claudin-2 Expression

Yaya Wang, John Brian Mumm, Ronald Herbst, Roland Kolbeck and Yue Wang

Dysfunction of the epithelial barrier is a hallmark of inflammatory intestinal diseases. The intestinal epithelial barrier is maintained by expression of tight junctions that connect adjacent epithelial cells and seal the paracellular space. IL-22 is critical for the maintenance of intestinal barrier function through promoting antipathogen responses and regeneration of epithelial tissues in the gut. However, little is known about the effects of IL-22 on the regulation of tight junctions in the intestinal epithelium. In this study, we report that IL-22 signals exclusively through the basolateral side of polarized Caco-2 cell monolayers. IL-22 treatment does not affect the flux of uncharged macromolecules across cell monolayers but significantly reduces transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER), indicating an increase of paracellular permeability for ions. IL-22 treatment on Caco-2 monolayers and on primary human intestinal epithelium markedly induces the expression of Claudin-2, a cation–channel-forming tight junction protein. Furthermore, treatment of IL-22 in mice upregulates Claudin-2 protein in colonic epithelial cells. Knocking down Claudin-2 expression with small interfering RNA reverses the reduction of TEER in IL-22–treated cells. Moreover, IL-22–mediated upregulation of Claudin-2 and loss of TEER can be suppressed with the treatment of JAK inhibitors. In summary, our results reveal that IL-22 increases intestinal epithelial permeability by upregulating Claudin-2 expression through the JAK/STAT pathway. These results provide novel mechanistic insights into the role of IL-22 in the regulation and maintenance of the intestinal epithelial barrier.


SMI-100, Tight Junctions, claudin-2, transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER), occluding, ZO-1, ZO-2, e-cadherin

Materials Tested


Request a copy of this paper, click here.