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Exercise regulation of intestinal tight junction proteins
  1. Micah Zuhl1,
  2. Suzanne Schneider1,
  3. Katherine Lanphere1,
  4. Carole Conn2,
  5. Karol Dokladny3,
  6. Pope Moseley3
  1. 1Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  2. 2Department of Nutrition/Dietetics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  3. 3Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  1. Correspondence to Micah Zuhl, Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences, University of New Mexico, Johnson Center B143, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA; zuhl09{at}unm.edu

Abstract

Gastrointestinal distress, such as diarrhoea, cramping, vomiting, nausea and gastric pain are common among athletes during training and competition. The mechanisms that cause these symptoms are not fully understood. The stress of heat and oxidative damage during exercise causes disruption to intestinal epithelial cell tight junction proteins resulting in increased permeability to luminal endotoxins. The endotoxin moves into the blood stream leading to a systemic immune response. Tight junction integrity is altered by the phosphoylation state of the proteins occludin and claudins, and may be regulated by the type of exercise performed. Prolonged exercise and high-intensity exercise lead to an increase in key phosphorylation enzymes that ultimately cause tight junction dysfunction, but the mechanisms are different. The purpose of this review is to (1) explain the function and physiology of tight junction regulation, (2) discuss the effects of prolonged and high-intensity exercise on tight junction permeability leading to gastrointestinal distress and (3) review agents that may increase or decrease tight junction integrity during exercise.

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