The Gastrointestinal Barrier

Gastrointestinal BarrierThe human gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a complex organ, with an epithelial surface that must provide a protective and immunological barrier in a complex and diverse microbial environment. Enteroviruses are leading causes of human infections worldwide, particularly in infants and children, and infect primarily via the fecal-oral route. These viruses, which include poliovirus, coxsackievirus, echovirus, enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), and enterovirus 71 (EV71), are small, single-stranded RNA viruses belonging to the Picornaviridae family.

The events that surround enterovirus infections of the human GI epithelium remain poorly understood. We recently developed two human models of the GI epithelium to better define enterovirus-GI interactions. These include a cell-line based three-dimensional model and a human primary stem cell-derived enteroid model. Using these organotypic 3D cell models, the lab team is focused on defining the mechanisms by which enteroviruses bypass the GI barrier to initiate infection, specifically focusing on the cell biological and immunological events associated with enterovirus infections of the GI tract.