Intestinal epithelial cells rest on a fibroblast sheath. Thus, factors produced by these fibroblasts may influence epithelial function in a paracrine fashion. We examined modulation of intestinal epithelial function by one such fibroblast product, scatter factor/hepatocyte growth factor (HGF/SF). This effect was studied in vitro by using model T84 intestinal epithelial cells. When applied to confluent T84 monolayers, HGF/SF attenuates transepithelial resistance to passive ion flow in a dose-dependent manner (maximum fall at 300 ng/ml, 28% control monolayer resistance, P < 0.001, ED50 of 1.2 nM), t1/2 of 20 h. This functional effect of HGF/SF and distribution of its receptor, c-met, are polarized to the basolateral membranes of T84 intestinal epithelial cells. HGF/SF effects on resistance are not attributable to altered transcellular resistance (opening of Cl- and/or basolateral K+ channels), cytotoxicity, or enhanced cell proliferation; they therefore represent specific regulation of paracellular tight junction resistance. Analysis with biochemically purified rodent HGF/SF and Madin-Darby canine kidney cells reveals that effects on paracellular tight junctions also occur in other nontransformed epithelia. Binding of HGF/SF to its receptor in T84 intestinal epithelial cells is accompanied by tyrosine phosphorylation of the receptor. Because loosening of intercellular junctions between cells could facilitate separation, spreading, and migration of epithelial cells during physiologic processes such as wound resealing, we determined the effects of HGF/SF on intestinal epithelial wound resealing using our previously published in vitro model (Nusrat, A., C. Delp, and J. L. Madara. 1992. J. Clin. Invest. 89:1501-1511). HGF/SF markedly enhanced wound closure (> 450% increase in rate, P < 0.001) by influencing the migratory and spreading response in not only cells adjoining the wound but also cells many positions removed from the wound. We thus speculate that HGF/SF may serve as an important cytokine that influences epithelial parameters such as transepithelial resistance and wound resealing. Further pharmacological approaches to manipulate HGF/SF signaling pathways may provide novel therapeutic strategies to enhance repair of intestinal epithelial erosions/ulcerations.
A Nusrat, C A Parkos, A E Bacarra, P J Godowski, C Delp-Archer, E M Rosen, J L Madara