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Friday, May 21 2021
1:00pm - 2:00pm
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Engineering the Intestinal Mucosal Barrier


Rebecca Carrier, Ph.D.

Professor, Chemical Engineering
Northeastern University


The intestinal mucosal barrier is highly significant to effective oral drug delivery, nutrient absorption, and interactions between microbes and underlying tissues. One limitation to studying the intestinal mucosal barrier is lack of appropriate in vitro experimental models. Our laboratory is working to develop engineered intestinal models incorporating microbiota in homeostasis with intestinal epithelium and immune cells for studying the links between ingested material and intestinal homeostasis/inflammation. Such models can be useful for studying mucosal transport in a physiological context, and for understanding how changes in mucosal barrier properties may contribute to disruptions in homeostasis of the microbiome-epithelium-immune axis. The mucosa is exposed each day to dynamic and variable intestinal lumen contents, yet the impact of these contents on the mucosal barrier is not well understood. Our laboratory is studying the impact of ingested materials, such as lipids in drug delivery systems or food, on transport through the intestinal mucosa of molecules (e.g., drugs and nutrients), particulates (e.g., drug carrier systems), and microbes. Results indicate that mild stimuli, such as those presented by food, can modulate the intestinal barrier, for example to impact oral drug delivery or microbial invasion, and that permeation through mucus is highly dependent on the physical and chemical properties of the penetrating material (drug, particle, microbe). We hypothesize, given the crucial role of intestinal mucus in modulating interactions between intestinal contents and underlying tissues, that ingested materials directly impact the mucus barrier in vivo, and that an altered mucus barrier modifies interactions of microbes and other lumen contents (e.g., drugs, signaling molecules including bile acids) with underlying tissues.


Faculty Host
Erik Dreaden, Ph.D.


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Seminars are presented by trainees on the first Friday and by principal investigators on the third Friday of each month.