About this Research Topic
Via its large epithelium-lined surface, the gastrointestinal tract is in direct and permanent contact with the human body's outer environment and thus represents a predisposed manifestation site for chronic inflammatory diseases like, as prime example, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Besides the accumulation of overwhelmingly activated immune cells within the intestinal lamina propria of IBD patients, the loss of epithelial homeostasis in the gut and subsequently occurring barrier defects have been identified as important key aspects of the underlying disease pathogeneses. Although several studies in clinical and basic science have indicated that epithelial defects in IBD can represent a consequence but also a triggering cause of overwhelming local immune responses, our understanding of the immune-epithelial interplay under physiological and pathological conditions still remains incomplete.
Besides classic immunosuppressive strategies, the maintenance and restoration of the epithelial barrier integrity has thus appeared as an attractive new therapeutic aim in the clinical management of chronic inflammatory diseases. In order to identify respective target structures and develop innovative therapeutic concepts for the benefit of IBD patients, improved insights into the complex and multifactorial communication between epithelial cells, local pools of mucosal innate and adaptive immune cells, the gut microbiome, vasculature, connective tissue and neuronal networks are urgently needed. In the context of this multi-directional crosstalk, it will be of particular importance to differentiate between epithelial cell-derived and epithelial cell-targeting signalling cascades, taking into account soluble mediators (e.g. cytokines, chemokines, adipokines, growth factors, neurotransmitters and microbial-derived metabolites) and effects potentially mediated via direct cell-cell contact.
In this Research Topic, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of current studies from basic or translational science focusing on the interplay of epithelial cells with surrounding immune and non-immune cells in chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, the resulting impact on the clinical course of disease and the development of therapeutic concepts for an improved barrier protection and restoration.
We particularly welcome manuscripts dealing with the following aspects of chronic inflammatory diseases, but are also open to studies covering other areas of relevance for the here summarized Research Topic:
• Mucosal immune cells as regulators of epithelial barrier integrity in the gut
• Impact of intestinal epithelial cells on mucosal immune responses
• Molecular communication between vasculature, connective tissue, neuronal networks or the gut microbiome and intestinal epithelial cells in the context of inflammation
• Intestinal epithelial cells as a target for the development of innovative therapeutic strategies in IBD
Keywords: Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Intestinal Epithelial Cells, Epithelial Barrier Integrity, Cytokines, Mucosal Inflammation
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.